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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Vietnam: What do you remember?

Twenty-five years after the Americans ended their military involvement in Vietnam, what lessons have been learnt?

Did the conflict change the nature of American foreign policy, or Americans' view of the world? Can Vietnam ever fully recover from the years of war and have its people overcome the bitter divisions of the war years? Tell us what you think.

And did the events in Saigon 25 years ago have a special significance for you? How do you think of the war, a quarter of a century later, and what do you remember?


Your reaction



Vietnam was a great loss by politicians and no way to fight a war.

Michael Sotile, US Air Force retired, USA
Vietnam was a great loss by politicians and no way to fight a war. Look at history and where the Russian resources were used at the time of the war. Think how the world would be today if Russia controlled the Middle East and remember that Nixon got the us out of the war and Kennedy and Johnson got the us into it.
Michael Sotile, US Air Force, retired, USA

Born and raised in South Vietnam, my greatest hope was peace in my country, so that my father would take me travelling to see our beautiful country. Our town was constantly threatened by the Vietcong who blew up bridges and buildings that killed innocent people. My dream shattered when the North Vietnamese communist tanks rolled into the streets of Saigon in April 30, 1975. I was 10 at the time. They imprisoned my father, took our house, sent the rest of us to their so-called "new economic zone." We faced hunger and malaria everyday. We finally escaped Vietnam and set sail to the high sea. We survived attacks and rape by Thai pirates, hunger, and thirst in the high sea. Twenty years later, I never forget what the communists have done to my family and my country, nor will I ever forgive their crime and cruelty.
Tom Tran, USA,

War? What war? Isn't it true that the US has never officially declared a war against any country since the 1940s or 50s? Even after scores of killings there are Americans who say that the conflicts with Iraq and Serbia in the 1990s were not really wars. What rubbish!
Ray, USA

It was not a US officer who performed the famous execution that Malcolm Littlemore is writing about. The executioner was an officer in the South Vietnamese Army.
Robert Reel, USA

I was in my last year in High School when the war ended. I feel there was a "loss of innocence" for my generation, not just for the participants. On the TV news I saw an incident where an American officer shot a young man (suspected of being a spy) in the head. He just fell in a ditch like a slaughtered animal. This was so different from "war films". Death in war was now "real", it was callous, and tragic, and there were no heroes. I wondered if I could kill an enemy so cold-heartedly. I hope I never have to find out.
Malcolm Littlemore, UK



I was in my last year in High School when the war ended. I feel there was a "loss of innocence" for my generation, not just for the participants.

Malcolm Littlemore, UK
Born in Hanoi, I still remember two occasions when we children were evacuated to the countryside and wondered why the Americans bombed Hanoi and stopped us going to school. Since the war ended in 1975, one of many questions still posed today is why the Americans failed a war where the balance of forces were a hundred times in their favour.
Huy Anh, Manchester

I really think the American Government is responsible for all the damage in Vietnam, so they should have given financial support to the Vietnamese people, because they were innocent victims. Without American support, they will never have a normal life again.
Jef Goetschalckx, Belgium



I remember the news that Jane Fonda - Hanoi Jane - celebrated the actions of the NV anti aircraft gunners.

Pete, UK
I remember the news that Jane Fonda - Hanoi Jane - celebrated the actions of the NV anti aircraft gunners. Years later I listened to a lecture from an American US Air Force pilot held for 4 years by the NV. He watched as the NV beat many of his fellow comrades held captive to death. He could never forgive her.
Pete, UK

After my father spent 3 years in Vietnam as a SEAL, won the Navy Cross and three Silver Stars, and came back still proud of his country, he read the Pentagon Papers story in The New York Times one-month after returning. He almost committed suicide. He is now a well man, but one thing I did not inherit from him was pride in my country. Dow and Dupont were what my father was fighting for, and he'll never get over that. And, fortunately, he won't let me either.
Sean Minahan, USA



I never really got over it and I'm not likely to. I'm so ashamed of what this country did.

Paul Siemering, USA
I remember all of it too well. I was by that time a committed pacifist anyway, but even if I wasn't I hated that war. I hated it from the first time they split up the country after uncle Ho liberated it from the French, and the first military "advisors" Kennedy sent, and the build ups as everything escalated. Naturally I was out in the streets all the time, demonstrating and all that. So I never really got over it and I'm not likely to. I'm so ashamed of what this country did.
When the first "boat people" started showing up here I started teaching them English, and then I took classes to learn how, and I've been teaching ESL ever since. I started doing it because it was all I could think of to do, to try to do something good, something real to help some Southeast Asian people. My students were not only Vietnamese - we had lots from Laos and Cambodia too all victims of my country's mad war making.
Paul Siemering, USA

As a Viet Nam vet Phu Bao 71-72, and whose Father served in the Pacific WW II, let me say that, what we were trying to do there was, shove our way of life down their throats. Having said that any Non-American, who thinks we were breaking down the door to hit the Normandy beaches, Viet Nam, or Kuwait, may think again. Some of us Americans are really tired of it. To My Fellow Nam Vets Welcome Home.
Francis Clancy, USA

Napalm. That is what I remember on my TV screen as a child. The Vietnam War was a tragic event and I am incapable of watching films about Vietnam as a form of entertainment. I speak as a former Major in the British Army. However, I do dispute the inaccurate use of the word genocide in many of the entries. This was not the motive of the USA and it is crass to suggest otherwise.
Chris Klein, UK



I hope VN and US can put all pain behind and be friends and not the enemies

Hai Nguyen, Canada
I was 11 years old when the B52 bombing Hanoi for 12 straight days in 1972. I hid under the bed when a bomb dropped at Hanoi University near my house. The roof fell down on me and my little brother who was 2 then. I left VN in 1979 as the boat people after the war end, looking for freedom and peace, I am enjoying peace here and I wish peace on earth for every one. I was too young to know all the reasons for the war. However, I think that VN war was the people's war. VN people are fighting for their own country, freedom from domination of the French for 100 years and then the US intervention. I hope VN and US can put all pain behind and be friends and not the enemies
Hai Nguyen, Canada

I remember the Vietnam War clearly. I was an American student in college and was summoned for the draft. I didn't want to be forced to fight a war in which I had no belief and I remember stating this at the dinner table and being called all sorts of names by some members of my family. The war divided the American nation and it divided families.
Today, I look back and still feel that our politicians made a tremendous blunder in Vietnam, while some of our industrialists made a fortune. We never should have picked up the mantle from the French and American paid a tremendous price for that burden.
Serge E. Grynkewich, II, Philippines

Kudos to Jon Elford! It disturbs me that the media portray Vietnam as "the only war America lost", yet the U.S was not defeated on the battlefield and did not surrender militarily to North Vietnam. America may have lost the war politically, but not militarily.
Timothy Buckley, USA



When I saw the news footage of Vietnam I eventually saw the reality of war.

Stuart Nicklin, UK
25 years ago I was 18 years old, old enough to have fought in Vietnam. The reason I didn't was that I was English and not American. As a boy I wanted to train to be an officer in the Royal Navy; I was a Cadet Petty Officer in the SCC, which I enjoyed enormously. When I saw the news footage of Vietnam I eventually saw the reality of war. The fear and terror of a noble people who only wanted what had been promised to them by those that they had helped in the dark days of WWII on the one hand. On the other hand, the incredulous frustration of boys no older than me, who were able to deploy incredible power from land, sea and air against a native people who were armed with a rifles and shovels. But they were unable to cower under those who refused to be battered or bought into compliance with a foreign power that was unsympathetic more by arrogance and ignorance than by malice.
Stuart Nicklin, UK

I have just spent 3 years living in Vietnam. I have to say that the Vietnamese are not cruel people as depicted in most films or media regarding the war. The Vietnamese have moved on from the war. What they are struggling for is to earn a living to have a better life for themselves and their children. But what they should struggle for is the US to clean up their country regarding Agent Orange.
The US is so intent on signing a trade agreement but will not take responsibility for the damage they have done. There are always atrocities in war but in Vietnam things continue. I have seen babies born with severe facial and physical deformities because of Agent Orange. This continues in their food chain. The US are hypocrites, they sent a token Ambassador for the sympathy vote. They only have one thing in mind and it's themselves.
K Brown, UK

In my final year at a boys' high school in Durban, South Africa, our English teacher (who was also our form teacher) turned over two-thirds of the pinboard at the back of the classroom to be used as a kind of wall-newspaper by us, the class. Anyone could post contributions. It seemed a very radical move then (1972) in a very conventional boys school. Two of us took the lead in posting material and turned it into a kind of running photo essay taken mainly from the pages of Life magazine, and showing the bloody reality of the war in Vietnam.
I think that those images had a special meaning for boys who were facing the draft within a year or so. South Africa's army was at that time not used at all within its borders but was fighting an appalling "Vietnam-style" war on its borders and after the fall of Mozambique and Angola in 1974 when many of us were at university we knew in advance what the "war in the bush" could mean to us personally.
Lloyd Spencer, UK

I was a small schoolboy in this African country when the Vietnam War had really turned fierce. Yes, I even remember that picture on the magazine of a small Vietnamese girl running without any clothes, a terrible one for such a young boy like me at that time. I was told then that it was a war of ideologies, pitting capitalism against communism. I think a good lesson to come out of the Vietnam War was that ideologies are not fought using the conventional war machinery. The wrong ones are destined to crumble, under pressure from their own people like for communism in Russia and the whole of Eastern Europe. Had this simple truth been accepted then, millions of Vietnamese and thousands of Americans would have been spared their lives.
Licky Abdallah, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania



All you shall do is respect the others and keep your eyes open and your hands closed when death comes.

B-K Huynh, Viet-Nam
My father had 5 sons and 3 daughters. My 3 elder brothers worked on the land. Father sent me to college at Long Xuen and the youngest brother to University at Saigon. The old man said that every family shall have one or two well educated children. When the war went south, I became teacher. One day, a rocket fall on the village school, killing nobody but took off my left eye. My 3 elder brothers escaped in the jungle and join the guerrillas. My youngest brother went to study at USA and became a helicopter pilot for the South Army. In 1968, I lost the first brother. In 70, the youngest brother was killed when his helicopter crashed not far from Nha-Trang. Three months before the end of the war, the third brother died because of one bad wound.
Sometime, when sitting with my second brother around some good rice whiskey, we say that our youngest brother is the brightest of all. He was a skilled pilot and we all are proud of him. That is a bad thing that he was killed and not one of us. But we supposed that is life. Life is a matter of luck. Sometimes you do good things, sometimes you do bad things. Sometimes you win - sometimes you loose. All you shall do is respect the others and keep your eyes open and your hands closed when death comes.
B-K Huynh, Viet-Nam

I am proud of all VN Vets for the job they did. With the draft it was a part of growing up. I still feel proud to put on my dress blues and know in my heart I did what I thought was the right thing to do.
Mike Bigley, USA



My Dad was executed in Re-education Camp by the people who "liberated" us from the USA.

Tien-Thanh Do, Australia
I agree with Senator John McCain on his comments. He is right in which he said that the wrong side won the war.
I was born in Saigon in 1973. My Dad was executed in Re-education Camp by the people who "liberated" us from the USA. They (the North Vietnamese) did not liberate anyone. They have brought only poverty and sorrow to us.
I experienced with my own eyes how they took away the property of other people whose relatives worked with the USA. They then sent these people to Re-education Camp as well.
I do think that all sides involved made mistakes. But a quarter of a century has gone. What has the Vietnamese leadership achieved? Absolutely nothing! They have mismanaged the economy, taken away people's freedom, brainwashed other Vietnamese people.
Vietnam needs a revolution like in Eastern Europe in 1989, so that Vietnam can start from scratch as a free and democratic country!
Tien-Thanh Do, Australia



A small low tech country of peasants thrashed and humiliated the mighty, high tech, USA.

Steve Foley, England
Happy 25th Anniversary Vietnam! A small low tech country of peasants thrashed and humiliated the mighty, high tech, USA, who should never have been there in the first place. Its amusing that since then Hollywood has made several films trying to re-write history the way the USA would have liked it to have happened.
Steve Foley, England

I did not serve in the war - I was too young. But I remember very well, how the American service men who did serve were treated when they returned to the US.
To this day, it saddens me deeply when I think about the number of people who died, the tragedy of it all.
They should have been honoured for enduring the horror they suffered through instead they were treated by the American public as criminals.
Gary Reilly, American in Brazil

I'd like to clarify one point raised by someone else from the UK. JFK would NOT have steered the US away from war in Vietnam - he was committed to fighting communism in Vietnam, and during his administration, he increased the US military presence there.
When LBJ became president, he had great reservations about continuing down JFK's slippery slope, but the national mood had been set when JFK told Americans to ask themselves what they could do for their country. No doubt he already had the forthcoming war in Vietnam in mind.
Paul Hicks, UK



When the North Vietnamese troops entered the city, they looted the buildings that were left behind by the US and the Saigonese.

Phat Nguyen, USA
As a Saigonese, April 30 is a day of mourning for us. We have nothing to celebrate. Instead it is a day that reminds us when we lost our country and a day when deception and duplicity was revealed.
I remember vividly that day in April 30 when the whole city was extremely chaotic. And then when the North Vietnamese troops entered the city, they looted the buildings that were left behind by the US and the Saigonese. Almost overnight, the Saigonese coined a phrase to describe these Northern soldiers "Va`o Vu+ng Va'c Ve^`" - meaning going South and stealing as much as you can and bring it up North.
Phat Nguyen, USA, but originally from Saigon

Vietnam showed that the USA could not impose its political doctrines on other countries. It is a pity that more countries could not shake off American Imperialism. If Che Guevara had "set off two, three, many Vietnams" than maybe the world would be run for the benefit of the People not the Capitalists.
Peter Robinson, England

On this anniversary no one in my family wants to celebrate, I would like to commemorate and to say thank you to all 58,000 GI and to hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese who gave their lives in this tragic war. Especially to the SVN soldiers who fought side by side with the Americans and unfortunately, their sacrifices went unacknowledged.
Victims of the communist system of disinformation, of the accomplice of the media of the West, they are totally forgotten: no Memorial Day, no "Vietnam Wall", even no cemetery for them (all their graves were dug up by the victors). The America's victory in the Cold war involves its commitment (and later betrayal) in Vietnam.
Nguyen van Ba, Vietnam

The Story of The ARVNs after the war is never told. All reports and people talk about is the North and the Americans. What about the feelings and lives of the soldiers who fought for freedom in the south and have been suppressed by the communists.
I travelled through Vietnam with an ARVN marine. I learned that there is still very much segregation and distrust. "They can never be my friend," says Tou. Many southerners were tortured and died in "rehabilitation camps" What about these people. Doesn't anybody ever think of them?
Peter Agostine, USA



When WE left VN in 1972 we as soldiers, never admitted that it was an action of DEFEAT. It was a political action.

E-4 Hubert D White, United States of America
I was in Viet Nam from 6/69 to 6/70 and I have mixed feelings about being there. When WE left VN in 1972 we as soldiers, never admitted that it was an action of DEFEAT. It was a political action, the government never had the right to place US American there to start with, then to want US the accept it as a defeat is crazy.
We lost 57,000 Americans and killed millions of their people. If it would have been a baseball game, there would be no question as to who won. I now believe that any war or conflict where human beings of any kind die, is a waste of human life. When the next war or conflict comes to earth, the people should refuse to participate and let the leaders of what ever countries are at conflict deal with it in another manner that does not require people to die for their reasons.
E-4 Hubert D White, United States of America



The Flight Line morgue where body bags were stacked like cord wood while they waited processing for their "freedom bird" back to "the world".

Steven Butler, USA
I remember the war quite well. I served in the USAF from 1968 through 1976. What do I remember most? The Flight Line morgue where body bags were stacked like cord wood while they waited processing for their "freedom bird" back to "the world".
I do not recall having served for "my county", my family, the FLAG, or any of these romantic ideals I have always heard coming from the minds of old vets looking back on their youth. I served because I had no choice in the matter. No choice other than that of beating the draft by enlisting of my own free will that is. I even went so far as to make my last act of individual choice before boot camp that of going to the barber shop and getting a crew cut.
It seams to me now, just as it did then, that I did my duty as best I knew how simply for my Bros. Those guys were great and I wasn't about to let them down on my end, though, many did do no more than they had to do to make it to their DOR day.
Steven Butler, USA

The last thing I remember is the Fall of Saigon in 1975 and scenes of soldiers pushing helicopters off of the flight deck of an aircraft carrier to make more room for refugees. For a dose of reality, though, go visit The Wall - the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. It is a most sobering experience and a fitting reminder that there is a human price to pay for freedom. I appreciate all that those individuals did for me and this country. I just hope we have evolved enough to avoid a war like that in the future.
Scott Sechrist, USA

Wars do not exist in a void separate from politics. War is politics by other means. So losing the political will to continue a war and losing the war are the same thing.

The thing I remember about Vietnam is the extreme brutality of the US government, so called defender of the free world, in pursuit of its political and economic interests.
Ron, Australia

I am a Korean, so many people out there might think I have no relation with the Vietnam war. But I have known some veterans who fought in the war as American allies. Korean soldiers were involved in the war in order to make money, especially American dollars. One my uncles is a Vietnam war veteran. He was very handsome and strong young man when he came back from the war but when I recently met him his face was covered with scars. According to my grandmother he has been suffering from orange for 20 years. The Vietnam war was an atrocity.
Goyungon, S Korea

As a World War II vet what I remember best about the war was the hypocrisy displayed on the college campuses. There was very little protest until LBJ toyed with the idea of tapping into the only warm bodies available- draft exempt students. Then all hell broke loose. Today many students support these unending US foreign forays knowing they will not leave their bodies nor its parts in some distant land. That honour will be once again assigned to our least educated and least sophisticated chumps.
Steve Block, USA

"An army in the field is of no use without wise counsels at home." Cicero (106-43BC)
Nigel Baldwin, United Kingdom

It seems like only yesterday that my squadron of the 8th TFW received its tasking orders to re-deploy back into Southeast Asia to meet the North Vietnamese invasion. Many of us having just completed our combat tours and commitments to Uncle Sam, were again on our way to DaNang to do battle with a very determined enemy. I remember arriving at DaNang to news that Quang Tri, Dak To and many of the northern provinces had already fallen to the enemy. Without hesitation, we were sent to defend the ancient capitol of Hue. While in the end, US air power alone was not enough to halt the invasion, I have no doubt that US air power made the enemy's invasion of South Vietnam extremely painful and on more than one occasion, was close to halting the invasion in its tracks. Finally, in 1974, my squadron had flown its last missions in South Vietnam as we headed home.
Kevin Johnson, USA

It seems to me to be both irresponsible and historically false to portray 30th June 1975 as the victory of North Vietnam over the USA, it was the victory of the North over South Vietnam. This is not nitpicking; the USA withdrew its forces after 1973. They withdrew their forces because they had negotiated a peace treaty, not because they had lost a war. US troops remained at a tactical advantage throughout the war and the USA didn't face any major military defeats. Even the much vaunted Tet offensive was a military failure. Let us be quite clear about this; losing the political will to continue a war and losing one are quite different things.
Jon Elford, UK

So many innocent lives were lost. So unnecessary. All stemmed from disastrous policies set by hawkish politicians in US who were sometimes ignorant about the rest of the world. Very ignorant indeed. They thought that every country in the world must have a political and value system identical to that in US. The red scare and the domino theory doesn't hold water. If a country's political system is inherently bad as US claimed, it would not have endured and would have died on its own. There was no need to sacrifice so many lives.
T Lam, US

I still remember vividly the huge influx of Vietnamese refugees into Hong Kong after Saigon fell. Almost the whole of Hong Kong was converted into a refugee camp. The Princess Margaret Hospital under construction was converted into a refugee camp. The Vietnam War was a great tragedy, especially because the Vietcong had won in the end and the Vietnamese people had to endure a brutal and totalitarian regime after being ravaged by a bitter war.
Tom Lau, Canada, formerly of Hong Kong



Americans still assume that they have the rights to judge other people.

Thanh Vinh, Vietnam
I was borne after the Americans had withdrawn and have grown up in peace. As any Vietnamese and maybe most Americans, I wish we can learn many lessons from the war and should befriend each other.
However, Americans still assume that they have the rights to judge other people. For example, though I appreciate McCain's efforts in bringing the US people and Vietnamese people closer, I was very angry with McCain's comments when he visited Hoa Lo prison that he would never forgive those who beat him and his friends. Let's ask how Vietnamese people forgive, but we have forgiven, American atrocities during the war.
Thanh Vinh, Vietnam

I was a member of the Socialist Union at Birmingham University at the time of the war and remember the protest marches we had in London against the USA's actions including the infamous Battle of Grovesnor Square. (A fellow member of the Union at the time was Jack Straw. How times change!)
I think we thought in those days that every issue was black and white, where of course, it's just different shades of Grey. However I learnt then that in all wars in is usually the innocent that suffer the most, a view that I have not changed over the years. Armed conflict changes situations but rarely achieves the objectives of those who use it.
Anthony, England



The Vietnam War was never a "war of genocide" as some people have contended.

Larry Leistikow, USA
The Vietnam War was never a "war of genocide" as some people have contended. Indeed several restrictions were placed on the conduct of the conflict which the enemy never had to deal with. Perhaps one should ask the North Vietnamese and their VC allies how many Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians were killed to make way for their "glorious revolution?"
Larry Leistikow, USA

I can't believe the US comments! Spraying the whole of Vietnam with Agent Orange and they call it a noble war. Americans need to grow a brain and start thinking for themselves.
Manos Theocharopoulos, UK/Greece



I wonder what would have happened if JFK had remained as Commander in Chief.

Gary, UK
I served in the US Air Force from 1961 to 1964 getting discharged just as LBJ was elected. I was lucky. I missed this terrible war. It was a disastrous mistake of the military industrial complex run amok which Ike warned against.
All that technology for war had to be used, and it was: in an unending "rotational" conflict that had no end from the beginning. It massaged the egos of the back seat generals. Neil Sheehan's "A Bright Shining Lie" says it all. I wonder what would have happened if JFK had remained as Commander in Chief. The world might have been a much better place and still "safe from Communism".
Gary, UK



We learned nothing, and threw away men in Somalia, and other places.

Daniel J. Flynn, USA
I served in Vietnam. As a career Marine, I was proud to serve with those fine young men who fought the war. I had hoped that Americans would learn never to fight a war to contain the expansion of an enemy, or for some other useless cause. You fight to win (and we easily could have, except for two small things: RUSSIA and CHINA). But we learned nothing, and threw away men in Somalia, and other places.
Daniel J. Flynn, USA

What I remember about Vietnam war (this I will remember forever) that no matter how powerful your enemy is, no matter how poor your country is, you can win the war with your willpower and unity. The Vietnamese peasants showed the world that they are much more powerful than the hi-tech US army. USA now think twice before RENTING their army for other countries.
Ullas Babu, India

Let me see: the communists won the war but the Americans are winning the peace ... what's right with this picture?
T.J. Cassidy, USA



I was a Marine in Vietnam from late 1966 until late 1967... I haven't slept for 33 years.

Larry F. Godo, USA
I was a Marine in Vietnam from late 1966 until late 1967. I was a machine gunner. I was broken by the time I came back. It had nothing to do with Jane Fonda or the Peace Movement. It was just the war itself. War in general.
I hate war with every fibre of my being. What I remember most about Vietnam is that it is the most beautiful place on earth, The people are so graceful and lovely. I haven't slept for 33 years and that is what I want to think of the most.
I was in Khe Sanh, in the so-called hill battles and I'd like my ashes to be spread there when I die. It was like fighting a war in paradise. There is nothing to be learned from war. Nothing at all. It is the most worthless thing on the planet. I wish I could take it all back. Be young and innocent again but I can't. I can only say to the young boys and girls who want to be hard who want to prove something to themselves don't do it. Don't end up like me, save yourself before it is too late.
Larry F. Godo, USA

The most tragic event in the history of Vietnam occurred shortly after World War II when Ho Chi Minh appealed to the Americans for help in liberating his country from French colonial rule. Imagine his surprise when he was turned down.
If the treasure and blood spilt by America fighting Ho Chi Minh had instead been invested in Vietnam, we would now be calling it the Switzerland of the East. Looking at the poverty that still exists in Vietnam, historians will have to admit this was a war everybody lost - there was nothing honourable about it.
Jefferson Wright, US citizen in Cambridge UK

To Mr. Peter Kohler - Is not it plain nonsense to call this a noble war? Apparently that outdated sense of heroism still exist in the US. I had been to Vietnam and the people of Vietnam and their sense of forgiveness is the real heroism. I do not think any other people would so easily forgive the genocide in support of a colonial regime
Tridiv, Germany/India



There was no genocide perpetrated by the Americans in Vietnam.

Trevor Blayney, N. Ireland
There was no genocide perpetrated by the Americans in Vietnam. There were certainly atrocities as there are, unfortunately, in any war. Nor should the US be tried for Hiroshima. This act ended the most horrible war in our history. How many years would the Japanese have let it go on if America had not shown them who was who?
Trevor Blayney, N. Ireland

America's worst hour, genocide of women and children, chemical poisoning of the land, humiliating evacuation from a moral crusade they had long ago lost, and no apology or even recognition of the pain, death and misery they caused upon a sovereign state entitled to its independent ideological choice.
Vernon Hunte, England



I remember being spat upon because I was wearing the uniform of the US Army.

Richard T. Ketchum, USA
I remember being spat upon because I was wearing the uniform of the US Army. This was done by people who quit protesting as soon as the draft was dropped, not when the war ended. The protesters were afraid to fight for freedom and have been masking their cowardice with high minded BS ever since.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

This anniversary is a very good opportunity to examine the human rights record of US troops in Vietnam and compare it with Russia's current war in Chechnya. Any unbiased observer will see that Russia's conduct of war is not that brutal as many human rights advocates in the West claim. This will also show that all these advocates live in the world of hypocrisy where one standard is for the West and another for the rest of the world.
Alam Navruzov, US

I served 3 military tours in VN and worked there afterwards for a total of almost 7 yrs. My whole time was spent in Kontum Province, central highlands. Throughout VN's history the montagnard tribespeople were abused by the ethnic Vietnamese whether northern or southern.
Their enemy was basically the Vietnamese who stole their tribal lands and moved them at will from the best lands in the highlands to areas along the roads where they no longer can farm and carry on their tribal traditions. These tribespeople are also the losers in this conflict. Regardless of who won or lost, neither cares for them. They are slowly dying off as they are forced to assimilate into a Vietnamese culture which they are not prepared for or want. When will the world investigate what is happening to them, their rights as an international cause?
Dom D'Antonio, USA



A small girl, caught in the conflict, running along a road, her arms outstretched with tears of pain running down her cheeks.

John, UK
A small girl, caught in the conflict, running along a road, her arms outstretched with tears of pain running down her cheeks. This image appeared on the front pages of all our newspapers and its lasting impact is surely something most people will never forget. I think this and the development of smart weapons has shifted public opinion on how a "just war" should be fought.
John, UK

Communist North Vietnam may have won the war, but they have certainly lost the peace and any visitor to the bustling Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) would certainly recognise this fact. As for my recollections, I can't say too much as I was born in the year that our troops withdrew. I can say however, that my generation has the highest respect for our veterans of that war and in some ways we can look more objectively at this time in history without being swayed by all of the hollow rhetoric that echoed from all quarters, right and left, throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.
Robert Kidd, Australia



I remember the growing sense of dread as I got close to draft age.

Peter Kohler, USA
From age 10 to 18, I watched, like many Americans, the Vietnam War on television every night. I remember the growing sense of dread as I got close to draft age, realising this was a war that would never end and that would one day involve me personally. Ironically, the war ended (as did the draft) on my 18th birthday, 25 years ago.
I agree with President Reagan who called this a noble war. It was, in many ways, just that: helping a people to keep their freedom and independence. Although the end was dishonourable, there was nothing shameful about the brave men, American, Australian etc. who fought this war.
Only their leaders who betrayed their heroism and many of their countrymen who failed to give them the critical home-front support. As a young teenager, I remember my revulsion at the anti-war protests by college brats who already had draft deferments and let others do their duty.
Peter Kohler, USA



I also remember the notices of all my friends who came home in body bags.

Collin, Canada
I went to live with my mom in the US, 1968. I finished High School and became a hippy. I remember the protests, waiting for your draft lottery number. I also remember the notices of all my friends who came home in body bags. From my senior year in HS I think there were 7 or 8 friends who were killed in Nam.
After University, I moved home to Canada. Bad memories of the US.
Collin, Canada

I made five deployments to Vietnam between 1963 and 1972 on Navy destroyers. Raided North on numerous occasions.
One of the things that has clouded my attitude over the years was the number of British merchant ships that fouled our fire, sitting in the harbour masking the Vietnamese guns. Our Australian friends (HMAS Hobart comes to mind) had a way with merchant seaman who they happened to meet in neutral bars.
Philip Grebner, USA



This was genocide that Americans were never tried for.

Neven Kasic, England
Poor Toby Nicholas, it seems the only victim of that war was his father. What about the Vietnamese?
What I do remember is that this was genocide that Americans were never tried for. Than again, they were never tried for Hiroshima either!
Neven Kasic, England

I think Peter Goff's comments are typical of what has been taken from the Vietnam conflict. This was a war like no other, it was fought at first by a professional army, who were actually winning, then it became embroiled in politics and micromanaged from the "White House".
This is where it started to come apart, it was a war from this point that could never be won for a lot of other reasons. Not least the corrupt government in South Vietnam, the young men and women who fought and died here were treated very badly by their peers, including the now President, and have never been able to rid themselves of the baggage from South East Asia.
James Jeffrey, USA, but English



I remember the picture of the little girl - naked, burned, skin hanging off in sheets.

Duncan, UK
I remember the picture of the little girl - naked, burned, skin hanging off in sheets. We can only imagine the pain.
I am now a father of two. That image is more haunting now than it has ever been. How do we end up in such violent conflict and what does it achieve? What did the Vietnam war achieve?
Duncan, UK

What? "The very things that the west actually stands for won". That would be supporting an illegal government in an attempt to retain greater influence in SE Asia then, Genocide on a scale hitherto seen before, and throwing away the lives of it's citizens in a bizarre attempt at posturing then!
Having been to Cambodia with the UN I took a keen interest in the area. There are two recent examples of Western intervention in S E Asia, Korea and Vietnam, in Vietnam a multinational force fought a legal war that was backed and sanctioned by the UN and won. In Vietnam the US and Australia tried to support a post French colonial regime, that wasn't legal and wasn't sanctioned and they lost, badly.
Ste Hick, UK

Like the Bourbons of Spain, the western powers have neither learnt nor forgotten anything. They still continue with their rocket-rattling diplomacy; they still suffer from arrogance and insolence that only their way of life is the god-given way to live and that others are primitive and not civilised.
The USA napalm-bombed the innocent people of Vietnam to bring them self-determination; the western powers continue to bomb Iraq and Yugoslavia with depleted uranium to rid them of tyrannical rule. We have been reading the lips of the western politicians; and the western lips are found wanting.
Mohansingh, India

I visited Vietnam 5 months ago and found it and its people fascinating. There seems little military presence in Hanoi and nothing in Saigon. The wars with France and American have left scares on the countryside, but the people just get on with life. During my visit they had only just managed to rebuild the road linking north to south which had been washed away in flooding killing about 600 people. The country is extremely poor and I'd like to see more help and investment given to them.
Colin, Netherlands



Although the US lost the war from a military point of view, the long-term prognosis is that the very things that the West (led by the US) stand for, actually won (and continue to win) hands down!

Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
Although the US lost the war from a military point of view, the long-term prognosis is that the very things that the West (led by the US) stand for, actually won (and continue to win) hands down! One could argue that without US intervention in SE Asia, things might have been different, at least in the short term. This does not mean that I "agreed" or "disagreed" with the war, but simply adding a perspective to the argument.
As for the military lessons learned by the US, first and foremost must be that one does not go to war, however large or small, unless there is a total commitment to win by the Executive, Congress and the people. Too, the mass media have to either be on board or neutralised (denied access). The lesson of Vietnam is that everybody had different objectives, which was hardly a winning formula.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

I remember the incredible effect of seeing it on the news every day. It was the first war to be so transparent. However look at Vietnam now - tentatively entering and benefiting from the free market trade its 60's communists so vehemently decried as evil. Perhaps America did win the hearts and minds, in a way, or perhaps Vietnamese people would have shrugged off communism by themselves anyway.
Gordon Joseph, UK



What lessons have been learnt? Not very many it would seem.

Toby Nichols, UK
What lessons have been learnt? Not very many it would seem. My father served in the 6th Royal Australian Regiment and has suffered PTSD for many years. In Australia after the war there was no debriefing and very little recognition from the government of the time. People who were suffering PTSD got no treatment at all. Then of course there is the long-term impact on health of being sprayed with Agent Orange and all the other chemicals used.
Many years later the Australian government finally did something to provide support, counselling and compensation to war veterans who's lives have been seriously affected. It would seem that this lesson has not been learnt by the UK government in it's handling of gulf war syndrome and PTSD suffered by servicemen in more recent wars.
Toby Nichols, UK

Vietnam was a victory for democracy in America. It was a war the American people didn't want, and their elected politicians withdrew their forces. Unfortunately, America lost all credibility and has never recovered it. If the USA says it will support you beware, they only mean until things get really rough.
Peter Goff, Kuwait

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