Many people in America believed that the United States (US) had no right to get involved in Vietnam and that Vietnam should be able to choose for themselves if they wanted communism or not. The people of the US witnessed shocking images on news footage and pictures and photo’s in magazines and newspapers.The US Army commanders said that the TV coverage was very one-sided, this may sound like just another excuse but they did have a point.
TV coverage was very limited on the communist side as press reporters could not go with North Vietnamese Army (NVA)or Vietcong (VC) and report their war crimes and failures, it was much easier to follow the Americans.Autrocities taken out by N. Vietnamese soldiers were rarely shown as the N. Vietnamese authorities were carefully organized and monitored, therefore,as a result of this, the news-reels were very one-sided.
As US soldiers returned from Vietnam they would have told their families and friends about the autrocities and horrific experiences that they had experienced while fighting for their country in Vietnam. People lost friends, family members or even classmates in Vietnam, and for this reason amongst many, many more and more people were joining in with the protests and the peace movement in general.Young soldiers who had been forced into the US Army because of conscription (from October 1965) who had the chance to write home to families in the US would have told them about what was happening and when people in the US found out about young students (some of whom were only 18yrs of age) dying in this foreign land they were quite simply angry, sad and outraged.As the fighting intensified, more and more US Soldiers were getting killed, many of them in their teens, one week in May 1968 saw 562 US Soldiers dead.
Many students across the US protested because many of the US fatalities were infact of young people, many of whom attended college in the US. These protests started off peacefully but as the number of fatalities grew the more and more angry people got and demonstrations turned violent.Many people around the world plus many leading scientists in the US and in other countries criticised the use of nepalm and other chemicals used by the US as they were believed to be having as huge effect on the environment.
With the US constantly attacking Vietnam with chemical weapons, with various aims, more and more pictures and photo’s were beginning to emerge and the full effect of the chemical weapons was still not known. For example: many innocent lives were lost in nepalm strikes and there is a very famous photo where a small child (Kim Phuc), with others, is running away from a burning village and she has been stripped of her clothes and has been burned on her body by nepalm, images like this would stay in people’s minds forever and this led to more people joining the peace movement.The US, in 1966, replaced selective targeting with saturation bombing. This included giant US B-52 bombers flying over Vietnam dropping bombs on everything in sight, this only made more people join in with the peace protests because thousands of innocent lives were lost in these air attacks and to the United States people and to everyone all over the world this was out of order.On 16th March, 1968, nine large gunships, belonging to the US Army, landed close to Mai Lai, this village was a typical Vietnamese village: red-brick houses with thatched roofs, paddy fields and roughly 700/800 peasants living there.
The US Army sent in 3 platoons to wipe out the area of anyone or anything (search and destroy). When the US people heard about this (18 months after it happened) they were outraged, hundreds of innocent women, children and old women and men were killed. At this stage, the protests were getting larger as the US people were learning more and more about what was happening or what had happened in VietnamIn 1971, the most signifcant and sentimental protest of all took place. It was called the “Veteran’s March” this protest was so significant as the protesters were actually ex-soldiers themselves and had fought in Vietnam. These people were heroes, many of them disabled. Many of them wore their old uniforms, medals, ribbons and honours that they had worked so hard for fighting in Vietnam.
Many American’s were deeply shocked by this but those who were for the peace movement were in favour as they knew that this time the US government would take the protests more seriously. Another famous demonstration was at Kent State University where 4 students wers shot dead and 10 wounded, all because they didn’t approve of their own governments actions.The first steps for peace began as early as 1966 but were not as urgent as they were after the Tet Offensive in 1968. In 1969 President Nixon announced that 25,000 US troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam.