BygoneLife

The Vietnam War

01 Nov 1955 -- 02 Jul 1976

By the end of the 19th century, the region now occupied by Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as under French colonial rule. During World War II, French Indochina was occupied by Japanese forces. After the Japanese surrender, the French hoped to regain control over the territory, but opposition by local ethnic and political interests, the Soviet Union and China resulted in the proclamation of competing governments by 1954. Communist backed forces gained the upper hand in the northern sector of Vietnam while anti-Communist factors claimed control of the South. Beginning that year, the United States gradually increased its involvement in the conflict. Following a massive escalation in late 1964, there were more than 500,000 American troops in Vietnam. The US was allied with the anti-Communist government of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the southern based National Liberation Front (Viet Cong). American involvement ceased following the signing of the Vietnam Peace Pact in January 1973, but offensive action by Communist forces resumed soon thereafter. The South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell in April 1975, leading to a Communist takeover of the entire country. Vietnam was reunified under a Communist government in July 1976.

DOCUMENTS

Peace to commence Saturday

24 Jan 1973

Just hours after the sudden death of former President Lyndon B Johnson, President Nixon announced that an agreement had been reached to end the Vietnam War.

AUDIO

Diem Overthrown and Assassinated  (02 Nov 1963)

South Vietnamese President Diem was overthrown and executed on 2 Nov 1963 in a military coup that many believe was orchestrated by the United States. This brief radio report announces the event.


VIDEO

Peace March  (1967)

Newsreel coverage of an April 1967 protest against the Vietnam War, including footage of draft card burning, Martin Luther King and other protest activities.


A Day in Vietnam  (1967)

The government film, narrated by Jack Webb, gives a feel to what American troops were faced with in the jungles of Vietnam.


Why Vietnam  (1967)

The program outlines U.S. policy as stated by President Johnson. Includes Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.