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Most Significant Events of Vietnam

Updated on March 14, 2012

*Not in any specific order...

Operation Rolling Thunder

Operation Rolling Thunder is considered to be one of the most significant aspects of America’s involvement in Vietnam because it showed the Vietnamese and American citizens as well, that the war in Vietnam was a lot more serious than anyone had originally thought. President Johnson’s attack plan seemed to attack not only the Northern Vietnamese military, but all of North Vietnam as a nation.

Such expensive and such violent and diabolical attacks continued to show the America was only getting more and more involved in the war, obviously upsetting American citizens back home who were against the war. And although it was Operation Rolling Thunder that was able to bring the Northern Vietnamese into peace conferences, the attacks were horrible and unimaginably destructive.

Tet Offensive, 1968

The Tet Offensive of 1968 was very important for an odd reason. While the offensive movements were considered failures for the Vietcong they did manage to cause a lot of psychological damage to US Military forces and US citizens back home. After the government had started to assure people that the war was almost won and over with, the Northern Vietnamese launched this attack.

In the eyes of American citizens, the news of another attack made the US government look like a bunch of liars. The US Military once again had to face the fact that the war would not be ending too soon. The whole event seemed to rally people to turn against the war even more, despite the fact that the North Vietnamese hadn’t actually won any part of the offensive in military terms.

The Mai Lai Massacre

The Mai Lai Massacre was significant to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War because it brought up an entirely separate dialogue. Not only had Americans been angered at the fact that they disagreed with troops being there, but now they knew that the soldiers were absolute barbarians while in battle. The massacre showed Americans back home that the government was allowing barbarians to run their armies, and that didn’t sit too well with the people.

The war in Vietnam seemed so ludicrous to Americans because it was getting to the point where, because so many troops were being sent, the honorable ones were being either outnumbered or replaced by uneducated college dropouts drafted by the government. The massacre showed that American troops were no longer professionals, but only average men with guns, and they were fighting like murderers.

1970 Cambodian Invasion

The 1970 Cambodian Invasion was so significant in relation to America’s involvement in Vietnam because the protests against it lead directly to the Kent State massacre. After the protesters had started to get more and more rowdy, soldiers tried to control the movement, eventually prompting them open fire on the students.

Because the violence was viewed as unnecessary and also because some of those hit by the fire were innocent bystanders, many Americans were upset by this. The violent response by the government towards these “peaceful” protesters made many Americans across the country feel that they were not allowed to express themselves freely anymore.

Pentagon Papers

The release of the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg was incredibly significant in relation to America’s involvement in Vietnam because ultimately it gave people reason not to trust their own government. After he himself became convinced that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, he managed to “procure, photocopy, and then return a large number of classified or top-secret papers regarding the conduct of the war.” When the Pentagon Papers were released to the New York Times, huge controversy, of course, ensued.

H.R. Haldeman described it best when he said “out of [this] comes a very clear thing: You can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment.” The government had been proven to create such “gross misconduct” that the people were encouraged to oppose the war even more than they already were.

Paris Peace Accords

The Paris Peace Accords were so incredibly important because the events lead to the final peace agreement that ending the war in Vietnam. Without the agreement to cease-fire, the Vietcong would have kept on fighting to the death.

I think it’s pretty ironic, however, that the Paris Peace Accords weren’t really facilitated peacefully. The US had to bomb the northern Vietnamese for 12 days to get them to comply with peace agreements. The Paris Peace Accords seemed more like a surrender of the northern Vietnamese.


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