April 30 was the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, which was captured by the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War, a conflict that divided the nation and cost the lives of 58,000 Americans. From a vantage point of 40 years later, what did the Vietnam War accomplish, if anything? Was it a futile exercise? Did Americans die in vain? What did we learn from it?
Was it worth it? Not by a long shot. The military and industrial ego believed that we were so much superior to the little Vietnamese rice farmers and that they would fold at the sight of Old Glory and the helicopters. Didn’t happen.
— Merriann Lanford, Benbrook
Our mission was to counter the “Domino Theory,” which held that if Vietnam fell under communist rule, all of its neighbors would follow suit.
The fact that Thailand stands alone today as an independent, non-communist ally is reason to argue that our soldiers did not die in vain.
— Bill Moore, Dallas
The involvement of the United States in this war was a complete waste of resources and American lives.
— Tom Horn, Keller
The Vietnam War was a Democrat’s war. President Lyndon Johnson stated, “They can’t bomb an outhouse without my approval.”
That’s what lost the war. He didn’t let the military do what it’s supposed to do.
— Carl Fleece, Fort Worth
The war was poorly prosecuted by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Piecemeal escalation was followed by a disastrous cessation of bombing. Vietnam was a huge mistake that should never have happened.
I don’t think we even learned that if we must go to war, we should have a strategy to win.
— Robert I. Johnson, Fort Worth
The Vietnam War accomplished the following: The defense industry made a lot of money and thousands of people were killed or wounded. From the standpoint of protecting and securing America, it was a futile exercise.
The Bush-Cheney crowd learned nothing from Vietnam. As with Vietnam, they were willing to attack another country that had never attacked us and to sacrifice U.S. troops needlessly.
— Michael Vaught, Arlington
It can probably be labeled a misadventure, but 25 years later we demonstrated that we didn’t learn the lesson of that history. I’m grateful that I returned home to my wife and family, but the Vietnam year is part of who I am. Others will have to say if that means anything.
— Bob Turk, Fort Worth
The Vietnam War became just a job for me. The two years in the Army taught me a career in helicopter maintenance. And Vietnam exposed the millions of dollars wasted by what President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about — the military-industrial complex.
— Rudy Salas, Fort Worth
If we’d let the military fight the war, it would have had a different outcome. The politicians fought the war from beginning to end. We didn’t trust or listen to the military leaders that we spent millions to train and equip.
— Wyman Bess, Roanoke
Whatever a nation endeavors to do, it should be left to the experts for overall planning. All recent wars in which our nation has participated have deviated from the experts’ plans because politicians were in control. When politicians limit the military, defeat is usually inevitable.
— Grady Fuller, Kennedale
The Viet Cong who infiltrated the South were not distinguishable from the South Vietnamese. How can you fight to win when you can’t identify the enemy?
— Eva Snapka, Arlington
The Vietnam War (and protests against it) were catalysts for ending the draft. Consequences include: less motivation to stay in college, less incentive to marry younger and start a family and much less incentive to care about the wars our country is involved in. Do you think we would have gone into Iraq if our president had ended his speech with: “We are going to draft an additional 50,000 this month.”
— James C. Paisley, Keller
Recall the 1960s song: War, what’s it good for, absolutely nothing. Maybe a better solution for our future: mandatory military induction, male and female at age 18 for two years’ service, zero deferments. Or we could just outlaw war!
— Denis Dunagan, Fort Worth
The only good coming from the Vietnam War are Vietnamese-American citizens. We were right to oppose the spread of communism and wrong to leave. But we made mistakes. The U.S. generals were careerists, afraid to speak truth to a narcissistic President Johnson — a recipe for failure in any venture. South Vietnam failed to address the plight of peasants, making them ripe for communist recruitment. Blame also goes to academics and journalists, not remembering the oppression communist regimes use to maintain power.
— Clete McAlister, Arlington
The Vietnam refugees have blossomed. New and loyal Americans, brought to our shores by tragedy. In their third generation now, we have valedictorians, elected officials, soldiers and business owners. While some born-and-raised Americans renounce their country and burn their neighborhoods, these new citizens are grabbing the American opportunity. Could this replenishment be the good born of disaster?
— Burt E. Ballentine, Keller
Hopefully, we learned that conscription of children over 18 raised in lower economic classes that cannot afford college is contrary to the principles of social justice.
Hopefully, we learned that there are cultures in the world that want to remain different from ours, and that is OK.
Hopefully, we learned that all-out war anywhere in the world is an abomination to God’s plan for us as his creation.
— Don Barg, Mansfield
Give Vietnam veterans a little respect, they did what their government told them to do.
— John R. Marshall, Colleyville
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