The Vietnam War is very well-known and lasted from 1954 to 1975. The
United States went through five presidents and lost about 58,000 soldiers
during this war by the time it ended.  This
war was messy, to say the least, with a string of miscommunications and tug-of-war
with-civilians deciding which side they were on.

            The French had control
over Vietnam, which was originally apart of the Japanese’s’ plan in the growth
of imperialism. However, the French had denied the request of the Japanese to
enter Vietnam. There were many Vietnamese who wanted the French rule to end so
that they could be free. There were 20 governors that came to Vietnam from
France; each one tried to colonize the Vietnamese and put their own mark on the
country. But in May of 1940, Germany invaded France which forced the French to
give into the requests of the Japanese as they had to focus more on the problems
at home. The French did not want to give up their rule in Vietnam even though
they needed help. The Japanese wanted to use Vietnam to stop supplies from
getting to China during the war. This wasn’t the end of the presence of the
Japanese’, it only began to grow. The Japanese controlled the northern border
of Vietnam and used the country as a means of transportation as well. The plan
was going so well for the Japanese that they started introducing their culture
to the Vietnamese people.

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While this was going on, communism was spreading
across Asia as WWII was coming to an end, but it was just the beginning for Vietnam
and the Cold War. The Japanese were moving in more and more on Vietnam as the
Soviet Union was closing in around the country; Some of Vietnamese started to
join the communist side since they needed support financially and in strength
if they were to become independent. The Viet Minh or Vietnam Independence
League, a communist Vietnamese group founded by Ho Chi Minh, slowly began to
drive the French out of the country hoping to gain the independence they had
wanted. The Vietnamese people who were against communism as well as being
against the French presence in their country also believed that the Japanese
were just as bad, if not worse. Ho Chi Minh had written to the U.S. for help
and to be recognized as an independent country – he was denied both help and
the recognition he wanted. It’s the height of Cold War, and with the French
losing their position in Vietnam, the U.S. became fearful that Vietnam would
fall into Communism. So, the U.S. decided to back the French to help prevent
any more countries from falling into communism. Despite all efforts, the French
finally left Vietnam, so North Vietnam turned to its next victim: the southern
part of their country where most the occupants were against everything the
north was pushing for.

U.S President Dwight Eisenhower saw an immediate
problem with and the North Vietnamese gaining control the French now gone.
Americans had just fought in Korea; how would we be able to send more soldiers?
The American people would never support the decision for another war; and they
didn’t even after we were so deeply involved in the protection of South
Vietnam. Eisenhower managed to find a work around that would not commit the
American people to another war and sent “advisors” rather than troops to South
Vietnam, not to fight but to help train the South Vietnamese armies. The U.S.
had Ho Chi Minh despite the common knowledge he was a communist because he was
more importantly a nationalist who wanted his country to be free of all foreign

World War II ended the year before the first war
began in Vietnam: the French-Indochina War. The Viet Minh group was gaining
power in the northern part of the country and Vietnam was considered one of the
Japanese colonies as it slowly advanced. The Viet Minh group was pushing its
way through the country working its way south, to the center of Vietnam. It was
not looking good for those Vietnamese people against communism. The Japanese
finally left Vietnam in 1945 when the atomic bomb dropped, leaving the Japanese
with no choice and Ho Chi Minh saw it as a light at the end of a tunnel, a
prayer answered. Ho Chi Minh declared the long-awaited independence he thought
that Vietnam deserved. He had written numerus times asking the United States to
recognize Vietnam as an independent country as well as asking for support. He
had figured that of all the countries to ask, the U.S. would understand their
predicament due to the fact that the U.S. had, itself, fought their
independence. Unfortunately, there were plenty of letters that never made it to
the U.S. President.

Ngo Dinh Diem was the leader of South Vietnam who were against communism
and with the support of America to avoid communism, Diem had refused to hold an
election as he feared the rest of the country would fall to communism.  At this point, the U.S was injecting 250 million
dollars into the South Vietnamese economy to help. When Kennedy was elected
into office, he was also convinced that Vietnam could fall into communist ways
and he wanted to retaliate for what had happened to the Berlin Wall. Kennedy
had sent over troops to aid the south Vietnamese but there were many Vietnamese
that were going over to the Viet Minh’s side.

Ho Chi Minh and Diem were both losing the fight
against communism and the chances of being a free country seemed like it was
forever away. The U.S. had been there to support the French and the Vietnamese
to train the Vietnamese troops to fight their own battles. It wasn’t until 1959
when the people started questioning the reason the non-combative soldiers were
there and why there were so many “advisors” in Vietnam. It was that year that
American soldiers were shot and killed, giving the U.S. presidents an actual
reason to be in Vietnam. Things were going south, but the U.S. government and
the south Vietnamese never gave up hope. The U.S. government had tried to help
the Vietnamese, even if was partially for their own agenda of keeping Vietnam
from becoming another communist country. They were as supportive as a country
could be after just getting out of another war, and their own people being
angry about the entire situation. However, they were not the only ones. There
were plenty of soldiers that were upset about it as well.