Why no one talked about the Vietnam War when I was a kid
No one talked about the Vietnam War when I was a kid. People screamed about it, and ranted about it, but I never got any straight answers. Even after I grew up, information was difficult to find. Sure, there were a lot of opinions, and stylized fiction in movies, but I had a lot of difficulty getting just plain facts.
I turned 18 in 1976, a year after the United States ended its involvement in Vietnam. I think it surprises people to find out how long this war lasted, as it seems as if it were a "1960s" war. It started in the 1950s, and escalated over the next twenty years.
It began under the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, as part of the United States defense against world Communism after World War II. The United States and the Soviet Union (Russia) were vying for world power, and the United States was interested in preventing countries from "falling" to the Communists. The fear was that if one country fell, another one would, and then another one. This was called the "Domino Theory". So even small countries were important, like Korea, and Vietnam.
The Vietnam War continued through the presidency of John F. Kennedy, continued on after his assassination in 1963, kept going on through Lyndon Johnson's complete term, through the complete term of the next president, Richard Nixon, and well into the term of his successor, Gerald Ford.
Of course, I was just a kid, so it's all very hazy to me. I do remember that it made people very angry. And when I hear people talk about it, I rarely hear anyone talk about how it just seemed to drag on, year after year after year. Presidents came and went, and the war continued. People protested, and the war continued. The number of casualties was reported on the news, and the war continued.
Today I visited the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with a friend of mine who is a Vietnam veteran. If you've never seen the wall (which is Washington, DC), the scaled replica is also amazing. And it's quite a jolt to see the veterans walk up to it and look for the names of people.
Make no mistake, this is not a memorial to the Vietnam War, this is a memorial for the soldiers. And maybe it's just as well that we don't talk about the Vietnam War, but it's good to be able to talk about the people who were affected by it - those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who lived in the shadow of that war for so many years.
Posted by Brad Hall