For many of us, much of the “how and why” of the Vietnam War has never really received much explanation. The focus has most often been mostly on the “shooting” part of the war and the body count. The vast majority of the country’s information about the Vietnam War came from the nightly news. Few dug deeper.
The National Archives, in Washington, DC, is presenting a marvelously well-curated exhibit entitled “Remembering Vietnam.” In one place, the visitor can learn about three important questions: 1) Why did the US become involved? . 2) Why the war was so long? and 3) Why was it so controversial?
The exhibit divides the history into 12 critical episodes, beginning with 1946-1953, the period that includes when Truman sided with France. It follows the actions taken and results from the Presidential administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson.
Episodes 5 – 10 deal primarily deals with phases of the war from the commitment of US forces, in 1965, through Tet (1968) and 1972, the period of “fighting while talking.” Episode 11 examines 1973 and the Paris Peace Accords and the experience ends with the Fall of Saigon, in 1975.
The exhibit is powerful, and moving. In my opinion, it will affect most visitors almost in direct proportion to your personal experiences related to Vietnam.
If you cannot visit in person, visit “Remembering Vietnam” online for more information. To see related programs, visit www.archives.gov/vietnam.