Dear Mr. President, I have received your recent letter in which you described so cogently the dangerous conditions caused by North Vietnam's effort to take over your country. The situation in your embattled country is well known to me and to the American people. We have been deeply disturbed by the assault on your country. Our indignation has mounted as the deliberate savagery of the Communist programs of assassination, kidnapping, and wanton violence became clear. Your letter underlines what our own information has convincingly shown - that the campaign of force and terror now being waged against your people and your Government is supported and directed from outside by the authorities at Hanoi. They have thus violated the provisions of the Geneva Accords designed to ensure peace in Vietnam and to which they bound themselves in 1954.At that time, the United States, although not a party to the Accords, declared that it "would view any renewal of the aggression in violation of the Agreements with grave concern and as seriously threatening international peace and security." We continue to maintain that view. In accordance with that declaration, and in response to your request, we are prepared to help the Republic of Vietnam to protect its people and to preserve its independence. We shall promptly increase our assistance to your defense effort as well as help relieve the destruction of the floods which you describe. I have already given the orders to get these programs underway. The United States, like the Republic of Vietnam, remains devoted to the cause of peace and our primary purpose is to help your people maintain their independence. If the Communist authorities in North Vietnam will stop their campaign to destroy the Republic of Vietnam, the measures we are taking to assist your defense efforts will no longer be necessary. We shall seek to persuade the Communists to give up their attempts to force and subversion. In any case, we are confident that the Vietnamese people will preserve their independence and gain the peace and prosperity for which they have sought so hard and so long. Source: Department of State Bulletin, January 1, 1962
Map of Vietnam
Famous People of the 70’s (Important to Vietnam War) As their fame and critical appreciation increased in the late 1960s to the 1970s, The Beatles, and John Lennon in particular - became increasingly political in many protest songs. Tariq Ali, a socialist leader, summarized the reason for this as: “The whole culture had been radicalized, [Lennon] was engaged with the world, and the world was changing him.’’ The Beatles' first overtly political song was “Revolution.’’ Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles were important to the Vietnam war because they helped people through the war with their music, they all were against the war. Jimi Hendrix wrote music that inspired people during the Vietnam war, though he had an untimely death in 1970 at the age of 27. His styles were hard rock, blues rock, acid rock, and psychedelic rock. The Beatles' first overtly political song was “Revolution.’’
Lyndon B. Johnson (Important person in the Vietnam war).
Johnson became President John Kennedy's vice president after serving as Texas governor from 1949 to 1961. He assumed the presidency after Kennedy's assassination in 1963 and became the nation's most powerful proponent for U.S. military interest in Southeast Asia. Following the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, Johnson slowly escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War so that by 1967 more than 500,000 U.S. troops were fighting in the conflict. Johnson eventually began pulling troops out of South Vietnam and decided not to run for re-election in 1968.
Saigon Timeline March 30, 1972 More than 20,000 North Vietnamese troops cross the demilitarized zone, forcing the South Vietnamese units into a chaotic retreat. Here, a South Vietnamese marine carries a dead comrade. Dec. 13, 1972 Peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam break off in Paris. Dec. 18, 1972 Nixon orders a new bombing campaign against North Vietnam. U.S. aircraft drop more than 20,000 tons of bombs in the12-day operation. Jan. 27, 1973 The United States and North Vietnam sign the Paris Peace Accords, ending the American combat role in the war. The U.S. military draft ends. March 29, 1973 The last U.S. combat troops leave Vietnam. April 21, 1975 Current President of South Vietnam resigns and flees to Taiwan. April 29, 1975 The last Americans are evacuated from Saigon. Flying from carriers off shore, U.S. helicopters coordinate a massive airlift that, within 18 hours, flies more than 1,000 American civilians and almost 7,000 South Vietnamese refugees out of Saigon. April 30, 1975 7:52 a.m. - The last helicopter lifts off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy, ending the mass evacuation. April 30, 1975 10:30 a.m. - The last leader of South Vietnam, Gen. Duong Van Minh, announces on radio that the nation has surrendered. April 30,1975 12:45 p.m. - A 20-year-old female guerrilla named Nguyen Trung Kien raises the flag of the Vietcong's Provisional Revolutionary Government over the presidential palace, effectively ending the nation of South Vietnam. March 1975 North Vietnam sends 100,000 soldiers against Hue and Danang, and quickly overwhelms the northern provinces of South Vietnam.
Some Preceding Events
The Paris Peace Accord, agreed between communist Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger, and reluctantly signed in January 1973 by President Thieu, produced a ceasefire and allowed for the exchange of prisoners of war. Later that year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, but the Vietnamese negotiator declined it saying that a true peace did not yet exist in Vietnam, sadly, it would turn out that he was correct. Gerald Ford took over in 1974 after President Nixon, who resigned the presidency on August 9 due to the Watergate scandal.
The Fall of Saigon
The fall of Saigon was caused by advances from the North Vietnamese army of PAVN (the peoples’ army of Vietnam) on to South Vietnam. The southerners the army came in contact with fell very easily, even though it had been predicted that they would hold out another year. The Northerners continued to capture major cities until they reached the capital. The army was determined to reach their goal – the capture of the southern capital; Saigon.
On their way, The PAVN army got to a strategic entry into Saigon at a place called Xuan Loc, where a battle ensued. The battle lasted 11 days, after which, their front lines were merely 26 miles from down town Saigon. Their enemy did not have the strength or the numbers to hold them off; The city was about to be captured.
Many Americans and westerners began to evacuate, along with many southern Vietnamese. This lead the current president; Gerald Ford; to initiate operation baby lift; which evacuated more than 2,000 children, this sparked Operation New Life, which evacuated about 110,000 Vietnamese refugees. The President, Duong Van Minh, who had been in office for just three days, made the announcement in a radio broadcast to the nation asking his forces to lay down their weapons. Saigon was defeated.
Nixon was elected to Congress in California following service in the U.S Navy during World War II. He served as vice president for two terms under President Dwight Eisenhower from 1952 to 1960, but was defeated by John F. Kennedy for the next presidency. He won presidential elections in 1968 and 1972, but was forced to resign in August, 1974, because of the Watergate scandal. Nixon's administration signed the Paris cease fire agreement thereby ending America's involvement in the Vietnam War.
Gerald Ford (Important to war)
Serving as Republican minority leader of the House of Representatives from 1965 to 1973, Ford was named vice president following Spiro Agnew's resignation from office in 1973. After President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, Ford became the new leader of the U.S. and ordered the final evacuation of U.S. embassy personnel from Saigon the next year.
Clark Clifford (Important person)
A distinguished Washington lawyer, Clifford was appointed secretary of defense by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to replace Robert McNamara (The previous secretary of defense). He began to steer Johnson away from further escalation of U.S. involvement in the war.
Alexander Haig (Important person)
After commanding an infantry division in Vietnam, Haig joined Henry Kissinger's national security council staff in 1969. He negotiated with South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu during the final phase of the cease-fire talks in 1972.
Henry Kissinger (Important person)
Kissinger was appointed national security advisor by President Richard Nixon in 1969. As the national security advisor, Kissinger negotiated with South Vietnam's Le Duc Tho until the Paris peace settlement was achieved in January, 1973. Nixon later appointed him secretary of state, a position he continued to hold under President Gerald Ford from 1973 to 1977.
Duong Van Mihn (Important person)
Known as "Big Minh" because of his size, he was trained by French and later became the senior army officer when Ngo Dinh Diem established his government in 1955. He led the coup against Diem in November, 1963 and was himself toppled two months later. Minh took over the South Vietnamese regime again in April 1975 and surrendered to North Vietnamese troops in Saigon.
Le Duc Tho (Important person)
Tho played an important part in building the structure of the Indochinese Communist Party and was partially responsible for directing the insurgency movement in the south. Along with his deputy Xuan Thuy, he negotiated the U.S.-North Vietnam cease-fire in September, 1973 with Henry Kissinger. Tho and Kissinger were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their talks, but Tho rejected his award.