Mrs. Wiercioch and Mrs. Hacker
25 March 2015
A Great Cultural Revolution
The American citizens opinions of the Vietnam War helped change the national culture.
The war affected Americans more personally than any other war; therefore, the average
American youth went against the social norms at the time. The typical American would support the antiwar movement, all sharing a general distrust against the government, and would support the civil rights. The Vietnam War dramatically impacted the culture of the United States leading to the rebellious actions that led to individual rights for social justice.
One of the most well known aspects of the American culture during the Vietnam War was the antiwar movement. During the Vietnam War, thousands of young people would go and protest the Vietnam War. Many of the young people would protest the Vietnam War to show the government that they did not want to go to Vietnam War. Many parents also wanted their sons home and would protest in hope that the government would listen. Many of the large protests that people joined would greatly affect their view on war and the government. “In 1972 ‘the nation’s campuses exploded.’Heineman reported several 1972 demonstrations at Michigan State
University involving thousands of participants. One such demonstration continued for days and led to a declaration of a state of emergency by the governor” (Lefkowiz 4). Lefkowiz was a psychology professor at the time of the Vietnam War, studying different outcomes of the war.
Large demonstrations, like that in Michigan, helped many young people’s beliefs on war and the
government. Their attitudes toward the Vietnam War would help make a culture that would be fully against war. Therefore, the American culture was changed because of the Vietnam War.
Another change Americans would support because of the Vietnam War would be a tendency to distrust the American government. Up until this time, many Americans would almost always put their support behind the government. However, many Americans started to question if the government was telling the truth. One such government action that caused many
Americans to begin to question the government was the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. According to the article “Grand Delusion: U.S. Strategy and the Tonkin Gulf Incident”, a U.S. destroyer named
U.S.S. Maddox was patrolling off of the coast of North Vietnam. According to the U.S. government, the destroyer was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. However, the article states that “It is now well established, however, that North Vietnam did not carry out an attack on the two ships on 4 August”. It was incidents like the Gulf of Tonkin incident that caused many Americans to begin to question the government. Another incident that caused many
American to take a second look at their government during the 1960s was the My Lai Massacre.
In this incident, American soldiers killed about 400 Vietnamese civilians. Most of these civilians were women, children, and the elderly. The article “Face to Face: Resistance, Melancholy, and
Representations of Atrocities” reports how colored pictures of the massacre caused more antiwar protests to start in opposition to the once thought trustworthy American government.
“Then, in late 1969, color images of the My Lai Massacre reproduced in Life magazine regalvanized artists and intellectuals to utilize photographs of the horrible actions caused by
United States soldiers, and their perpetrators to force members of the government and the military to face their own consciences and to mobilize support for the antiwar movement”. Such
images, such as those in the My Lai Massacre, and lies made by the U.S. government, such as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, helped change the way Americans thought about their government.
These changes would help change the American culture.