The Vietnam War
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How was he/she involved with Vietnam? As a soldier, a draft card burner, a relative, or friend of a soldier? Choose this Topic to record how events related to Vietnam may have challenged his/her ideas and values.
The Vietnam War took place at this point in time. Was he/she interested in the events of the Vietnam War, outside of combat?
- What was his/her interest in Vietnam? Did he/she have family there? Was he/she studying that part of the world? Was he/she in the military?
- To gain control of all Vietnam, North Vietnamese leaders wanted to dismantle South Vietnamese non-Communist governments. The U.S., fearing the spread of Communism, supported South Vietnam. What did he/she think of initial U.S. involvement? Did he/she fear the U.S. would commit troops to the war?
- Did he/she think that the U.S. should involve itself in other countries' conflicts? Why or why not? Did he/she agree with the American policy of trying to contain Communism in other regions?
- The domino theory said if Communists took over Vietnam, many surrounding countries would follow. Therefore, President Johnson decided to step up U.S. military presence in Vietnam by sending more troops. Did he/she think that this was necessary? Did he/she fear the spread of Communism?
- U.S. leaders often seemed uncertain about what would end the war, alternately adding and withdrawing troops in Vietnam. At the time, how did this affect his/her opinion about the war? Did it seem that the U.S. military was serving a purpose?
- Did he/she ever feel that the U.S. should pull out of Vietnam? When? Why? Did he/she feel that this would hurt the United State's image as a superpower? Did he/she believe that the war wasn't the United State's responsibility?
- Did he/she support the war at first, and then later change his/her mind? Why or why not? What influenced his/her ideas? The amount of casualties? The effects that it was having on the U.S. economy?
- A treaty was finally signed in January of 1973 and the remainder of the troops came home. The war cost over $100 billion and more than 58,000 American lives. Many people had mixed feelings about the war. What did he/she feel had been accomplished? Was it worth the price?
Did he/she fight during all or part of the Vietnam War?
- Which branch did he/she serve in? What was his/her rank? Did he/she enlist or was he/she drafted? How did he/she feel about the draft? Was he/she philosophically or politically opposed to serving in the military or was he/she proud to serve his/her country?
- Describe basic training. Who was his/her commanding officer? Who were his/her peers? Where and for how long was he/she trained? What did he/she learn?
- Did he/she have trouble getting along with anyone in his/her unit? Why? What became of it? How did he/she deal with it?
- Did he/she have a nickname? What were the memorable nicknames of others?
- How did he/she feel about sharing his/her space with others? Did it feel cramped at first? Was it easy to get used to?
- What was his/her most vivid memory of this time? Specific people or places? A certain event?
- Which weapons was he/she trained to use? How did he/she feel about using weapons? Was he/she comfortable with one in particular?
- Was he/she especially skilled at one particular task? Did it become his/her "specialty"?
- Did basic training build up or cut down his/her self-confidence? Why or why not? Did he/she feel as if he/she was well-prepared for his/her duties? Did it turn out that he/she was prepared?
- Where was he/she stationed after basic training? What were the people and the surrounding area like?
- How did he/she keep in touch with his/her friends and family back home during this time? Did he/she save any letters from this time?
- Which battles did he/she fight in? Describe the time, place, number of participants, and what happened. How did these battles affect the war as a whole? What role did his/her unit play in these battles?
- Did he/she become close friends with any of those he/she fought with? Did they keep in touch in later years? Did he/she save any of their lives? Did they save his?
- Was he/she injured in any way? Describe what happened. What went through his/her mind when he/she realized he/she was hurt?
- If he/she was injured, did he/she heal quickly or not? Did he/she return to the fighting, or was he/she sent home? How did it change him in ways that he/she still noticed years later?
- Did he/she ever need to take someone's life? Describe the experience.
- Why did he/she leave the service? Honorable discharge? Injury? End of active duty? Describe the circumstances and how he/she felt about them.
- What did he/she find when he/she returned home? Did he/she receive a cool reception from those opposed to the war? Did he/she feel proud for having served, but at the same time avoid talking about it to others?
- Was he/she able to return to "normal functioning"? Was it easy to put it all behind him and get on with his/her life, or did he/she have to struggle? What was hardest to adjust to once he/she returned?
- Was there someone or something that was helpful in getting him through this time of adjustment? Could he/she suggest anything helpful to someone going through a similar situation?
- From his/her perspective, when was the war over? When the peace treaty was signed in 1973? When he/she came home?
- After all was said and done, what did he/she learn from his/her experiences in the military? Why were these lessons valuable to him? How did they change him and his/her ideas or values?
- How would he/she be different if he/she had never had these experiences?
- What sort of memorabilia did he/she save from this time? What did it symbolize to him? What memories and feelings did it bring back in later years?
Was he/she at home during all or part of the Vietnam War?
- Why was he/she home at this time? Was he/she not called up? Was he/she too young or too old? What was his/her situation at that point in time? Did he/she wish that he/she could have gone to fight?
- What was it like at home? How was life different because of the war?
- If any loved ones fought in the war, how did he/she feel when they left? Was he/she scared? Did he/she think that he/she would never see them again or did he/she feel that they would return? What actually happened?
- Did any of his/her loved ones die because of the war? Who? Did he/she know how he/she or he/she died? When did he/she find out about their death?
- In general, what did he/she and others initially think about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War? Did he/she support U.S. involvement in Vietnam? Did his/her ideas change over time? Why? What influenced his/her thoughts?
- Many people protested U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Was he/she involved in the protests? What did he/she do to protest the war? Go to rallies? Burn draft cards? Why did or didn't he/she protest?
- When did the war end for him? When the peace treaty was signed in 1973? When a loved one came home? Describe that day.
- What was it like when his/her friends and family finally came home? Had they changed in ways he/she didn't expect? Had he/she changed in ways they didn't expect? What was hardest to adjust to once they got back? What was easiest?
- Did it take a long time for life to return to normal? Did it ever? Was it easy to put it all behind him and get on with his/her life or did he/she have to struggle? Why?