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America's Involvement in the Vietnam War

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Soviet Union, Khmer Rouge, China, or North Korea.

By 1968, there were around half a million American soldiers in Vietnam, and with the reports flowing in from Vietnam the government confidently stated that the end of the war was just around the corner, but that was not the case. In January the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive occurred on January 30 of 1968. The North Vietnamese launched a wave of attacks in the night hours in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam. The main North Vietnamese operation occurred the next morning. Although the attack was eventually stopped, the troops struck more than 100 towns and cities, including the southern capital. The attacks stunned the U.S. and South Vietnamese armies, causing them to lose control of several key cities. While the North Vietnamese had control of several cities, they executed thousands of people and the execution was later called “Massacre at Huế.” Even though the United States and the South Vietnamese armies stopped the North Vietnamese, the North did win a strategic victory because of the political and psychological effects it had on America, South Vietnam, and Allies. The effect it had America was huge, the U.S. public support for the war dropped significantly.

One of the events that makes questions the validity of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War was the My Lai Massacre. The My Lai Massacre is a direct result of the Tet Offensive. Having been temporarily stopped by North Vietnam, the American soldiers became frustrated with themselves and the North. They took their frustration out on the inhabitants of My Lai hamlet, part of the village of Son My, and was located in Quang. In March of 1968, Charlie Company of the Americal Division’s 11th Infantry Brigade was sent on a search-and-destroy mission to My Lai because it was believed to be a Viet Cong stronghold. At the time, U.S. soldiers morale was diminishing due to the loss of around 28 members that died or were wounded in the Tet Offensive. The Commanders were told that all of the people found in Son My could be considered part of the Viet Cong or Viet Cong supporters. When the Charlie’s Company arrived, they didn’t find any Viet Cong members, only villagers. The company then rounded up the inhabitants and took out their anger and frustration out on them. They beat them, they raped the women and children, they tortured them, they dragged them to a ditch before they murdered them by shooting them with a machine gun. In the ditch, they watched their friends, family, and fellow villagers die before they died themselves. And in the report of what happened, it was recorded that not one single bullet was shot against the men of Charlie Company at My Lai.

In conclusion, U.S. involvement in the war was largely justifiable. The U.S. fought to protect the lives of its allies and its soldiers stationed in Vietnam, and sometimes their behavior became controversial. However, because of the U.S. involvement, many countries were able to stay clear of any communist influences.


Gitlin, Marty. U.S. Involvement In Vietnam. Edina, Minn: Abdo Publishing, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

"Diem, Ngo Dinh." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2016): 1p. 1. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

Willbanks, James H. The Tet Offensive: a Concise History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

Gray, Truda, and Brian Martin. "My Lai: The Struggle Over Outrage." Peace & Change 33.1 (2008): 90-113. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas Bailey A. The American Pageant: AP Version. 14th ed. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.


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