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Do you know why the Viet Nam war started, or when it really began? Well, it may surprise you to know that the war actually began shortly after the end of World War II. When WWII ended many countries had taken control of smaller countries in Asia. Vietnam was controlled by the French, but after WWII Vietnam wanted its independence. France did not want to give up its colonies because they needed the extra income to help rebuild its country after WWII. A man named Ho Chi Minh, who declared their independence from the French after the end of WWII, led Vietnam.
His resistance force was first called the Viet Minh, which stood for the Vietnam Independence League (DRV). Ho Chi Minh formed a government called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, although he was a true communist. Vietnam became divided into North and South Vietnam, with the French controlling South Vietnam and the DRV the North. As the French moved into North Vietnam fighting broke out and the French became involved in a new kind of war. The General in charge of the DRV, a man named Gay used guerrilla warfare to defeat the French. In this type of war the General used small groups of men to kill or wound French soldiers and then run away into the jungle before the French could use a large army to fight back.
This fighting lasted for years and the people in France did not like having French soldiers killed again as in WWII. By 1954 the French knew that they could not win a war against the DVR. They were defeated in a big battle at Dien Bien Phu and quickly left Vietnam. After this defeat a meeting was held in Geneva Switzerland and Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam along the 17 th parallel of latitude. This was supposed to last two years and then the people of Vietnam would vote on whether to reunite the country and what kind of government all the people wanted. Well suddenly Dominos decide to help decide Vietnam's fate.
Yes, thats right, you know the game of Dominos. Well Im sure many of you have seen or maybe even tried the trick of standing Dominos up and making all of them fall over. The United States thought of the countries in Southeast Asia as Dominos. They thought that if Vietnam became a Communist country all countries in the region would soon also become Communists.
Worried about the South and the possibility that Vietnam would become another Communist country the Americans began sending food and advisors or trainers to help the new South Vietnamese army train and defend themselves. About a million people from the North moved to South Vietnam because they were Catholic and the Communists in the North did not allow this type of religion. But, an even bigger and more important reason they moved south was because of food. Yes thats right food.
You see North Vietnam rice fields flood more often then those in the south because of the rain. Additionally, the rice fields in the south produced enough rice that they were know as the Rice Bowl of Indochina. Now remember, I told you this all began in 1954. Well, by 1961 the Americans had sent more than 2, 000 advisors to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Well as you can expect the North continued its guerrilla war against ARVN forces and their advisors.
These North Vietnamese soldiers became the famous fighters from the north called Viet Cong. Soon the Americans decided they needed more advisors to teach and defend themselves. Well you know what happens next. Yep, more and more Americans go to fight in South Vietnam. From 1961, when the American President actually used an American law to declare a limited war on the north, until 1975, when the war ended, Americans who had fought in Vietnam was over 2 and million. How does this entire thing end, well thats a good question?
Let me see if I can help you figure out a good answer. First, can you imagine graduating from high school given a gun and going to a country thousands of miles from your home that you have never heard of before? Well thats what happened in America. As the casualties grow Americans began to protest. You see unlike WWII everyone could watch the fighting and killing live from their TVs. It became very unpopular.
Finally, in 1975 the Americans signed a peace plan with North Vietnam and left the country. Here are the resulting facts of this war. This was the longest war the Americans ever fought in. As I told you over 2 million Americans fought in Vietnam. Over 58, 000 of them were either killed or wounded. The war cost America more than $ 110 billion dollars.
More than 200, 000 ARVN were killed and another 5000, 000 were wounded. More than 1, 000, 000 South Vietnamese civilians (people like you and me) were wounded. North Vietnamese casualties were even higher, with as many as 1, 000, 000 soldiers killed and another 3, 000, 000 wounded. It is estimated that the total war cost is over $ 500 billion dollars. So because of food and the Americans worried about Dominos, you remember, other countries becoming Communists, millions of people suffered and died. Who won and who lost?
Thats an easy question to answer for some and not so easy for others. I think all the people involved lost. Sure some say the North won because now Vietnam is united as one country and the Americans had to run away. But actually, the Americans won every major battle that they fought. So what do you think? Well everyone has to decide for himself.
I hope you have learned something important today. Thank you. Bibliography:
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