Impact of Vietnam War on American Culture
- Although decades have passed since the occurance of the Vietnam war, the American culture, which was partly born as a result of this war, is celebrated today.
- The War changed the views of the American people on their constitutional rights, the media and the government.
- The war created many stereotypes that referred the veterans as drug addicts, bitter, struggling to readjust in society and psychologically devastated.
- The chemical weaponry that were used on the Vietnam vegetation had an adverse effect on the people in a way that even after three generations, the effects are still evident on the children.
- The Vietnam War affected greatly the media.
- The Vietnam war also led to the congress replacing the military draft bill with an all volunteer force.
- The war also affected negatively on the economy of the United States.
- The dream came through for America, since after the war, it learned very many lessons.
Impact of Vietnam War on American culture
The American culture is deemed one one of the diverse in the world. Many aspects, which fall under humanities, explain how the society in America cannot be likened to any other. One of these aspects, which can best explain the diversity is the Vietnam War, which began in the year 1954, after the ascension to power of Ho Chi Minh, who was a communist leader in North Vietnam. The leader was spreading communism, and because the United States wanted to stop the spread, it sent military troops to aid South Vietnamese to stop this vice. The war saw about 3million people die with the inclusion of 58,000 American soldiers. About 150,000 people were wounded during the war. In 1975, South Vietnamese government surrendered the war after the communist forces forced them to surrender. Vietnam unified communism and became a Socialist Republic. Although decades have passed since the occurance of the Vietnam war, the American culture, which was partly born as a result of this war, is celebrated today.
Despite the many obstacles in the society, humanities explain that a clear line defining coexistence in a society should be defined. Despite President Johnson facing a lot of hostilities from the public and the military, for wanting to escalate the war, he had a goal of uniting the nation through the war. Subsequently, he decided that it was time to end the war, and in 1969, Richard Nixon became the new president of the United States. President Nixon planned on how to end the war as he had seen what it had done to the people of America. The plan to end the war would see the end of involvement of the United States. The plan that President Nixon outlined was referred to as the Vietnamization. This was the process of removing United States troops from Vietnam, and handing the fight back to the South Vietnamese.
The withdrawal of the United States troops began in 1969. To bring the era of hostility to an end faster, president Nixon decided to expand the war into other countries such as Cambodia and Laos. This decision led to increased protests, especially in colleges and universities in America. Peace talks began to end the brutality and the war in 1969, and by 1973, the United States president at the time, Nixon, ordered the withdrawal of military troops from Vietnam.
The Vietnam War is the longest war compared to other wars that happened in the United States. Commitment and promises were made to the government and the people of South Vietnam, that communists would be kept away from overtaking them (Beattie, 1998). Military advisers and CIA operatives, as well as American soldiers were sent to Vietnam to end the war. The war failed because the United States did not have public support; however, there was a notion that the war was prosecuted against the desires of the citizens of the United States. The war, being very profound in the United States, created diverse impacts on the American Culture.
Humanities teach on how individuals in the society ought to respect each others views and rights. On way in which the War changed the views of the American people, is through their constitutional rights, the media and the government. People realized that they had rights under the constitution, which the government was not allowed to violate or interfere with under any circumstances. Further, the war had an immense effect on the American culture in that people created groups to protest the war. Consequently, the people involved in the groups changed their cultural ways of living. In 1967, veterans united to protest the war, as more and more soldiers were diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorders.
Humanities can also be demonstrated in how the soldiers in the war faced lots of challenges, how they turned to drugs to ease pain, as well as what they resorted to forget their problems. It became easy and cheap for them to acquire drugs, such as heroin, in Vietnam. When soldiers returned to the United States, it became hard to cope without drugs, and this led to the introduction of heroin into the country. This further created many stereotypes that referred the veterans as drug addicts, bitter, struggling to readjust in society and psychologically devastated. They felt out of place and could be the talk of the day, in wherever place they visited.
The American government received negative popularity from its citizens, who did not agree with the way of governance. The government was violating the rights of its citizens, especially the introduction of use of chemical weapons in the Vietnam war. The citizens felt that this was going too far against their rights. The chemical weapons were used to destroy vegetation that covered the North Vietnamese, with an uncouth plan to execute one part of the American government.
The chemical weaponry that were used on the Vietnam vegetation had an adverse effect on the people in a way that even after three generations, the effects are still evident on the children. Many of them are born with malformations and severe defects in the nervous structure and immune system. The chemical also affected the American soldiers and veterans as many of them have health issues related to these weapons. Although the American government thought that they were only punishing the North Vietnamese, American veterans ended up victims of chronic and unhealthy conditions.
The Vietnam War affected greatly the media. This is because the media was mainly used to communicate and spread word about protests and social gatherings. The media was also used by Americans to ensure that their views were heard. This ensured the protest outcome was better. The productivity of protests became increased as more media joined in to relay messages during the protests. In such protests, the government would violate the constitutional rights of the American citizens by preventing them from speaking their minds. This, as stipulated by the constitution on the bill of rights, barred them from enjoying the right of free speech. At that point, the Americans realized that the constitution was bigger than the administration of the government, and they protested even more to ensure that their constitutional privileges were not infringed any longer.
The Vietnam war also led to the congress replacing the military draft bill with an all volunteer force. The voting age was further reduced to 18 years (Hall, 2009). A volunteer force was chosen because during the war, a military commandant would call a house, and ask whether a person had a reason not to go to the war. In case a person complained, they were shipped to Vietnam. The military soldiers were forced to fight in the Vietnam war, and this left them undermined and lose morale, because they were not given a chance to make a choice. Therefore, the congress came up with the law to safeguard the right of choice for all Americans.
Additionally, the Vietnam war saw the enactment of the War Powers Act, which prohibited the president from sending military troops in a combat zone without the explicit Congressional Approval. The law limited the powers of the American president when it came to war or combat. The Act was ratified as a result of president Nixon’s behavior of sending military troops to Vietnam to combat a war that was not planned (Daum, Gardner & Mausbach, 2003).
The war had adverse psychological effects on the veterans because even after the war, the government did not appreciate their work, while others who were even wounded and disabled, were not compensated. The conditions they experienced in Vietnam was bad that most of them were diagnosed with PTSD (Hagopian, 2009). The soldiers were not given any training on how they would cope with life after Vietnam. The government, however, welcomed them with stereotypical comments of their loss, drug addiction, and miserable lives. The soldiers did not agree willingly to go to Vietnam; they were forced by the government and could have been made to understand the repercussions of the war before being let go. Because of this, the veterans felt used, and left out, and the only people who could help them adjust were their family members, but still some of them were not appreciative and receptive.
The war also affected negatively on the economy of the United States. This is because immediately after the war, inflation cripped into the country. President Johnson refused to raise taxes that would help reimburse for the war soldiers, and by using what was on the coffers, created a serious inflation in the United States. Additionally, the political spirit in the country was affected by the war. The democratic party was divided, and many democrats became politically independent on republicans. This affected a lot the Democratic Party as they were viewed as the anti-war faction and were held to be uncertain about the role of America in the world.
The Vietnam War impacted a lot on the American Popular culture. More than 250 films, 750 novels, 100 short stories and 1,400 personal narratives were published based on the war. Figures such as John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac and actor John Wayne of popular culture supported the American involvement in the Vietnam War. The actor faced a lot of opposition after he took a portrait of him and Vietnam soldiers. The popular culture was involved in the war indirectly by making films and writing books about the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam war us viewed as one of the important historical times in the US. Many activists, who had opposed the idea of the government initiating the war, led massive protests, which were tailored at bringing back sanity in America. According to the activists, the dream of the American people was to live in a free society, from from oppression and infringement of the basic rights. The dream came through, since after the war, Ameica learned very many lessons. Discrimination of any kind subsided, and everybody was treated equally.
In conclusion, the Vietnam war had positive and negative effects on the American culture. The citizens got to know and understand their constitutional rights. The enactment of the War Powers Acts, which limits the powers of the head of state during times of combat, was formed. The negative effects include the effets PTSD, which was suffered by veterans. The death of people and soldiers during the war, was also a negative effect. Every American since the end of the war got to understand their rights, as stipulated in the constitution.
Beattie, K. (1998). The scar that binds: American culture and the Vietnam War. New York: New York University Press.
Daum, A. W., Gardner, L. C., & Mausbach, W. (2003). America, the Vietnam War, and the world: Comparative and international perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hagopian, P. (2009). The Vietnam War in American memory: Veterans, memorials, and the politics of healing. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Hall, M. K. (2009). Vietnam War era: People and perspectives. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC- CLIO.