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A Glimpse on Vietnam War

“The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular war in which Americans ever fought. And there is no reckoning the cost. The toll in suffering, sorrow, in rancorous national turmoil can never be tabulated. No one wants ever to see America so divided again. ” I chose to write my Portfolio Essay on the Vietnam War. During the 17th century, the French Missionaries arrived in Vietnam. They received a warm welcome from the people of Vietnam and they were allowed to live and work in Vietnam as well. However, the Vietnamese authorities became concerned when the missionaries began to recruit the local people to Roman Catholicism.

The converted Catholics were told to abandon their religious customs including that of taking several wives. The missionaries also instructed their followers to give their loyalty to God rather than to their Emperor. Hostility towards the Christian missionaries grew and over the years there were several cases of priests being murdered. In 1847, French troops were sent to Vietnam to protect the Catholic community. News soon got back to France that Vietnam would make a good addition to the French Empire. Nothing was done about it at first but in 1858, Napoleon III sent 14 ships and 2,500 men to the Vietnamese port of Danang.

It was a long drawn out struggle but in 1868, the Vietnam Emperor surrendered and signed a peace treaty with France. This did not stop the fighting as China, concerned about the presence of French troops on its border, sent soldiers into Vietnam. The war continued until 1885, when China finally accepted her inability to defeat the French Army and signed an agreement recognizing French control over Vietnam. By 1893, the neighboring states of Laos and Cambodia had also been added to the French Empire. Vietnam became profitable for the French. Vietnam had good supplies of coal, tin, zinc and rubber. Much of this was sent to France.

Vietnam also provided a good market for French manufactured goods. By 1938, 57% of all Vietnam’s imports were provided by French companies. Most of the wars fought by the Americans have obvious causes but there was no predetermined cause for the Vietnam War. The war began in 1956 and ended April 30, 1975 and it took place in Southeast Asia. From 1957 to 1965, the war only involves the South Vietnamese army and the Communist-trained South Vietnamese rebels led by the communist activist Ho Chi Minh who occupied North Vietnam and organized a nationalist organization known as Viet Minh (Vietnam Independence League).

The war was fought between the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the US-supported Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The probable seed of conflict identified for the US war in Vietnam was the partnership of the US military troops with Ho Chi Minh in May 1950. The US military intelligence agency together with Ho Chi Minh collaborated to fight with the Japanese troops who occupied Vietnam during World War II and to help the wounded American soldiers. The US only provided the rebel communists military advisors and troops.

The US military intelligence entered Vietnam in March 1965. Meanwhile, China and the Soviet Union provided the communists with war materials but not troops (Modern American Poetry). The United States military aid spent more than $500 million by 1951. From 1946 until 1954, the Vietnamese struggled for their independence from France. After the first Indochina War, Japanese surrender unconditionally and the Vietnam’s puppet emperor, Bao Dai, resigned to his seat. The allies of Ho Chi Minh occupy Hanoi and declare a temporary government. The country was divided into North and South Vietnam.

The Vietnamese who worked with the French controlled South Vietnam and North Vietnam cam under control of the Vietnamese communists who aimed for a “unified Vietnam” under Communist govern. The United States sent troops to South Vietnam to prevent their government from collapsing in 1965. However, in 1969, US began to pull out their troops. In January 1973, a cease-fire was arranged between the two regions in Vietnam and the troops of US left Vietnam. In 1976, South Vietnam officially became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. However, the war resumed soon afterward (Modern American Poetry).

The war ended on April 30, 1975 when the capital of South Vietnam fell to the communist forced of North Vietnam. The losses to the Vietnamese people were horrendous. There were about 10 percent of the bombs and shell that went unexploded which continue to slay Vietnamese throughout the region after the war. Fifty-eight thousand Americans died. In South Vietnam alone, there were eight hundred thousand orphans that the war created. There were also 10 million Vietnamese that became homeless. The government of Vietnam reprimanded those Vietnamese who joined the rebel communists.

As a result, there were about 1. 3 million people that migrated to the United States. The financial cost to the United States comes to something over $150 billion dollars. `Let every nation know, whether, it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival of liberty. ` -President John F. Kennedy, 1961.


Modern American Poetry. The Causes of the Vietnam War. June 3, 2008 from http://www. english. uiuc. edu/maps/vietnam/vietnamwar. htm

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