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The Vietnam War

The American Home Front

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The American Home Front

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America’s Home Front

 America had a little of it’s soul nibbled away from Vietnam” (Hugh Downs). The American people were divided against what seemed to be a never ending battle. The people had changed; all of America was impacted by the Vietnam War. Everyone had someone fighting not for America, but for a distant land. Everyone had a brother, sister, and father, uncle, cousin, niece or nephew fighting for a war America should not have been involved in. The Vietnam War would continue to last in the hearts and minds of those who had been there first hand and for those at home. The draft, counter culture, and protests greatly impacted America’s Vietnam War.

 

President Johnson’s military draft of 1969 sent chill’s down American’s spine. Young men from age 18 into their mid-twenties were being drafted against their will into the Army. If they did not comply, they were threatened by prison sentences. As America became more and more involved in the Vietnam War, the military draft sent many male Americans fleeing to Canada. More than 50,000 draft-age men migrated north to Canada, literally running for their lives. As John L. Hagan of the Boston Globe stated, “This was, quietly the largest political exodus since the American Revolution” (http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0617-03.htm). Hagan concludes that the draft left many Americans in fear. Over 50,000 men were coming back dead or wounded and many men did not want to be apart of what seemed to be an endless war. America changed its whole system of military drafting in the late 1960’s. This draft changed, impacted the reaction of the people. Steve Hammons of the American Chronicle describes the new draft system.

 “The military draft system that had been used throughout the late ´60s had changed around 1969 or so. The draft "lottery" system was put into place.
Three hundred and sixty-five ping-pong balls, each representing a birthday of the year, were randomly picked on nationwide TV, just like the state gambling "lottos" of today.
If you were 18 years old and your birthday was first to be picked, you were going to be drafted. If you were number 365, you probably wouldn´t be”
(
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/3514 ).

 

Hammons determines that this system would continue putting fear in Americans minds. No one knew who would be picked to go in next. It was just the luck of the draw and they would be forced to pursue their civic duty. Joseph Jones the Librarian Emeritus talks of the recordings of statistics of how many young males migrated to Canada during the draft. “Canada’s Immigration Statistics show that about 16,000 American males aged 19-25 formally immigrated to Canada in the period 1966-1972 (amounting to about 1.4% of total immigration.)” (http://www.library.ubc.ca/jones/hstrnt.html ). These statics show how much the military draft effected America. For fear of being selected for war, many young male Americans fled to Canada rather than allow themselves to be drafted and sent to Vietnam. Americans looked at being drafted as death. Everyone knew there was a very good chance you were going to die and those 16,000 thousand chose to hide in shame. Those who remained took to the streets to protest in ever growing numbers. The military draft impacted all Americans.

 

The counter culture of the sixty’s erupted because of the Vietnam War. No longer would young men and women be pushed back by society, but rather they would speak up against the Vietnam War. Thousands of young Americans in the late sixty’s took a stand through protests, rallies, and concerts creating this new counter culture generation. A large number of young Americans opposed the war in Vietnam and rallied around the Anti-War Movement. “The antiwar movement against Vietnam in the US from 1965-1971 was the most significant movement of its kind in the nation's history” (http://www.studyworld.com/Antiwar_Movement.htm ). The Anti-War Movement rose along side the counterculture. With the common feeling of opposition of war, thousands of youths united as one. During this Anti- War Movement the Hippies emerged. The Hippies were identified as the largest countercultural group in the United States. The Hippie generation started a Hippie Movement that fought for racial equality, women's rights, sexual liberation, relaxation of prohibitions against recreational drugs, and an end to the Vietnam War. The Hippie culture was best embodied by the new genre of psychedelic rock music and the artists who exemplified this era, such as Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Janis Joplin. The pop-art culture led by Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick also played a prominent part in the social change in the United States by redefining what "art" was and what made it valuable. The Anti-War and Hippie Movement was a large part of the creation of the counterculture. This new counterculture seemed to bring a wide variety of people together for one reason and that was to end the Vietnam Conflict and bring peace.

 

“The Vietnam Protests began because of the Anti-war sentiment that arose from the question of the morality of participation in what many regarded as a civil war; the growing human and environmental costs; and doubts that the US war effort would succeed” (http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/Vietnam+War+protests ). The first major demonstration against the war was a march in New York City in 1965, in which some 25,000 people participated. Two years later mass demonstrations attracted hundreds of thousands of participants in Washington, DC, as well as in London and other European capitals. Many protesters were college students, and they formed anti-US-government groups such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to oppose the war. One of the most unfortunate protests involving young Americans was the Kent State College protest. “On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on students at Kent State.
Four students were killed and nine wounded” (
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/3514 ). Students all across the country became enraged and over the next few days campuses all over the US came to a virtual standstill. Media was also a help to fuel these Ant-War protests. The media coverage enabled millions of people to see graphic scenes of human suffering in the Vietnam War. All protests were major influences to ending the Vietnam War. The protest brought all levels of society together, fighting for a common cause, to end the War of Vietnam.

 

By the end of 1967, the Vietnam War was costing the U.S. some $25 billion per year, and disillusionment was beginning to reach greater sections of the taxpaying public. More casualties were reported in Vietnam every day, even as U.S. commanders demanded more troops. Under the draft system, as many as 40,000 young men were called into service each month while the lucky soldiers would return severely traumatized by their experiences in Vietnam or severely injured. By the end of the war the death toll for Americans reached 58,2000 and a grand total of one million for the Vietnamese. The never ending draft left young males fleeing for Canada while the others protested the never ending war. Anti-War sentiments and protests bonded America together for one common opposition of war. This greatly influenced the counterculture era that involved all Americans. The counterculture of the 1960’s to 1970’s has made a mark on our society. The Vietnam War was fought overseas in a different country that was fought to free the Southern Vietnamese from the rule of Northern Vietnam and the Viet Cong communism. Another war was fought, in America to free our own country from war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

1. Hagan, L. John. “Their Road Not Taken Went Back Home.” Common Dreams 1 page. Online. Internet. 1 June 2008. Available http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0617-03.htm .

2. Hammons, Steve. “Revisiting the Vietnam war era: The draft, casualties and the Kent State shootings.” American Chronicle 1 page. Online. Internet. 1 June 2008. Available http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/3514 .

3. Jones, Joesph. Historical Notes on Vietnam War Resisters in Canada.” The University of British Columbia 1 page. Online. Internet. 1 June 2008. Available http://www.library.ubc.ca/jones/hstrnt.html .

4. “The United States Antiwar Movement and the Vietnam War.” StudyWorld 1 page. Online. Internet. 1 June 2008. Available http://www.studyworld.com/Antiwar_Movement.htm .

5. “Vietnam War Protests.” The Free Dictionary 1 page. Online. Internet. 1 June 2008. Unavailable http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/Vietnam+War+protests .

 

 

http://vietnam.vassar.edu/overview.html

 

http://www.history.com/states.do?action=state&state=Vietnam%20War&parentId=1968

http://www.essortment.com/all/vietnamwarprot_rlcz.htm

http://www.cyberlearning-world.com/nhhs/html3/culture.htm

http://youtube.com/watch?v=dP4GaprkAJg&feature=related

 

 

 

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