Today in History: U.S. Withdraws from Vietnam

| March 29, 2017

170327_news_219x365I never understood why my friend Mary wore a pewter-colored bracelet on her left wrist to school, until the day she explained its meaning; her older brother, a mere 18 year old boy, was drafted for service some months prior, and unfortunately taken by soldiers in the North. Where exactly, she did not know — it was for sure a long way away, somewhere in a small country on the other side of the globe — but she said her prayers and lived in constant hope of Charlie’s safe return. Wearing the bracelet seemed to help reassure, while symbolizing the solidarity of sentiment over a war that none of us could fully understand.

I remember the horrible images on television, my older brother warning me, quietly saying I should probably not watch the news. Eyes glued to the old black and white portable in the corner of his bedroom, he’d stay up way past bedtime, probably wondering how long it would all last, and if he might be at risk for duty in the years ahead.

Vietnam was a name that caused my mother to shake her head and shudder. For, in the depths of a bitter Chicago winter, a cold, deathly feeling pervaded among most folks we knew living on the North side of town, and, just a few months later, tragic news hit home. Mary had lost not only her brother, but shortly thereafter, her mother from a sudden heart attack. It had been a long winter, and would prove a very long and costly war.

On March 29, 1973, the last American troops left Vietnam, following an eight-year intervention in which 58,000 Americans and two million Vietnamese died in a war against the communist North Vietnamese. Widely considered one of the longest (over 19 years) and least popular wars in American history, the Vietnam War began with the struggle of the French colonial forces against the native Vietnamese who were supported by Chinese communists. When the French left, the U.S. came in with active ground troops, but efforts proved unsuccessful by South Vietnam to reclaim the North.

The following articles are selected from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

Tips:

U.S. Withdraws from Vietnam-03

  • Did you know that Teachers College faculty, William Gaudelli and Margaret Crocco, led the design of a new curriculum entitled Vietnam Now? The course debuted at Teachers College in the summer of 2009.
  • Read about The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a wall that lists the names of more than 58,000 men and women who served in those controversial war and see the database of searchable names.

***

Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context.