The Legacy of Vietnam



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” The lesson of the past in Vietnam has already been learned-learned by presidents, learned by congress, learned by the American people-and we should have our focus on the future.”

-(President Ford, 1975 The American Vision.)

The legacy of the war was profound; it dramatically affected the way Americans viewed their government and the world. Richard Nixon had promised in 1968 to end the war, but it would take nearly five more years-and over 20,000 more American deaths- to end the nation’s involvement in Vietnam. By 1967, the anti war movement lead by the FSM and SDS had intensified with no signs of slowing down. Americans increasingly found themselves divided into two camps regarding  the war.  Those who strongly opposed the war were called doves and those who supported it were the hawks. During the first six months of the 1968, almost 40,000 students on  more than 100 campuses took part in more than 200 major demonstration, targeting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war.

The Vietnam war exacted a terrible price from its participants. In all, 58,000 Americans were killed and some 303,000 were wounded. north and south Vietnamese deaths toppled 2 million. In addition, the war left Southeast Asia highly unstable, which led to further war in Cambodia. In America, a divided nation attempted to come to grips with an unsuccessful war. In the end, the conflict in Vietnam left many Americans with a more cautious outlook on foreign affairs and a more cynical attitude to ward their government.