Vietnam Essay Research Paper American intervention in

Vietnam Essay, Research Paper

American intervention in Vietnam began with a

generation of boys born to the veterans of the second

World War. Boys who lived in the afterglow and dreamed

of the glory. Patriotism was thick in a country who

came out of the second great war stronger than it had

entered. We were unbeatable. America had survived to

continue it?s fight against injustice and for liberty.

The new fight was against communism.

The war might never have taken place had the

United States aided Ho Chi Minh in the fight to

liberate Vietnam from the French, a fight the Americans

had experienced themselves not all that long ago. In

light of France being an ally the United Stated did not

see their way clear to assist a colony from French


Philip Caputo?s book, ?A Rumor of War? is full of

painful honesty about the fighting in the jungles of

Vietnam. The boys from working class families were

doing the fighting and the dying in a land ten thousand

miles from home. Caputo speaks of a nation divided in

it?s opinion on the war and the soldiers who fought in


Born on the Fourth of July tells the story of the

return of a Vietnam veteran. The country the veterans

returned to was one that wasn?t proud of it?s soldiers,

nor was it grateful for the sacrifice they made. They

came back to a community that was largely disgusted

with their behavior.

Taken together, the book and the film tell a great

deal about the impact the war had on Americans.

Considering that hindsight is 20/20, the reasons seem

obvious now. On one hand, the military is creating a

favorable report from the field to make it appear as if

the war will soon be over, the newsmedia is flooding

television with images of burning villas and dead

civilians and the politicians keep insisting they are

reducing US involvement and that the war is soon to

end. It doesn?t end. Not for ten years, and

fifty-eight thousand American lives.

For the returning soldiers, the country didn?t

want to hear the war stories, their painful memories.

?People didn?t want to know about the tumults of the

warrior?s heart, to hear the cries that came howling

straight out of the heart of darkness, the belly of the

beast.? (Caputo,349) Instead they were pushed aside

and not given the respect due them for having given

their lives, bodies and souls to the cause in Vietnam.

These men didn?t create the situation, they served

their country and were ridiculed for their behavior.

It was in the embarrassment and in the

indifference that Americans found reason to blame the

men who fought the war. America never rallied behind

the war. The protesters protested, the enlisted men

fought and died, and the rest didn?t pay much

attention. The best illustration of this point is the

scene in Born on the Fourth of July when Kovic?s mother

is in front of the television and there is a news

report on about the protesters in Washington and she

changes the channel to watch Laugh-In. It is a subtle

illustration, yet represents an important faucet of

America?s indifference to the war.

Initial support for the war quickly waned as it

became apparent the war was unwinnable. Even so, the

United States could not back out and loose face. The

leading nation in the world could not back out of a

conflict it had custom created simply because it had

backfired. Without the nations support, major

escalation was avoided and thus defeat was eminent.

The US military was defeated in a third world


America?s image of itself and its role in the

world after Vietnam were forever changed. The nation

had gone into the war a super-power and had failed.

For the first time in it?s history, the United States

failed to achieve it?s stated war aims: to preserve a

separate, independent, noncommunist government in South

Vietnam. Americans were embarrassed. ?Our self-image

as a progressive, virtuous, and triumphant people

exempt from the burdens and tragedies of history came

apart in Vietnam…? (Caputo, 353)

The book and the film both reach the same

conclusion: A nation that is finally ready to listen to

and hear what these men have to say. The people are

ready to lift the blame from the soldiers shoulders and

give them the respect they deserve.

There are still differing opinions about US

involvement in Vietnam and there always will be. The

issue that remains is whether or not politicians

learned anything. Only time will tell.

Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War. Henry Holt and Co,Inc.

New York, New York. 1977,1996

Born on the Fourth of July, Universal Pictures. 1980


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