The Effects Of The Vietnam War In The United States

1713 Words 7 Pages
The Vietnam War is known to be the only war the United States ever lost. It was extremely unpopular and had approval ratings of below 20% (McConnell 183). It left us with a war memorial containing the names of 58,209 dead soldiers, all inscribed on black granite (Isaacs 1). Although the military action of the Vietnam War took place thousands of miles from our shores, the war’s effects were strongly felt in the United States of America.
Vietnam was originally a French colony, and it gained independence after World War II (Willis 56). The former colony split into North Vietnam under communist Ho Chi Minh, and South Vietnam, under the anticommunist Ngo Dinh Diem. (Willis 57). The US supported Diem, ignoring the fact that he was hated by the South
…show more content…
The social changes from it were enormous. It created a huge gap between the rich and the poor, in direct contrast to how World War II brought them together. During World War II, 70% of draft-age men served in the military, including a sizable amount of rich teenagers, such as John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush. In 1946, only twenty-eight men graduated from Harvard – all of its other students were at war. 691 of these students were killed (Isaacs 38). Then, when the soldiers came home, the GI Bill gave them a free college education and subsidized housing, among other benefits. These allowed the poor to achieve social mobility and mingle freely with the upper class (Isaacs …show more content…
Although most white sports players were exempt from the draft, that standard did not apply to black athletes. Muhammad Ali, an extremely successful boxer, refused to even register for the draft, saying, “I got no quarrel with them Vietcong.” Because of this, he was forced to give up his title of heavyweight champ (Anderson and Ernst 254). An additional unfairness was the fact that for every white man in a combat position, there were two black men. Martin Luther King, Jr., complained that African Americans were dying “to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.” They did not have civil rights, yet they were expected to bear the burden to claim these rights for the South Vietnamese (Senker 45).
The separation between rich and poor and white and black increased even more following the Vietnam War, when the United States created an all-volunteer army. Extremely negative attitudes towards the draft caused it to be abandoned. Therefore, the people most likely to enlist would be those interested in the money and free college education – mostly poor blacks. In 1980, there were only 276 college graduates in a group of 340,000 soldiers. The army became a “poor man’s army,” increasing the social gap between rich and poor, white and black. The equality engendered by World War II was gone (Isaacs

Related Documents