The events of the past continue to influence and shape the present and the future, particularly the decade of the 1960s, which was a time often called the decade of discontent because of demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Americans were divided between patriotism and the desire for peace. Some agreed with President Johnsons involvement in Vietnam for the common goal of eliminating communism, others became entranced in the peace movements that usually involved mass protests.
For those who protested American involvement in the longest war they ever took part in, songs of the times were an inspiration, particularly songs of Bob Dylan, whose influential songs often protested what many considered the wrongs of society. The Times Are A-Changin, one of Dylans biggest hits that expressed the feelings of the younger generation, has been called an anthem for the protest movement. The 1960s represent a time when the youth were no longer complacent with their role in society, it was a time of revolutionary change in thinking and lifestyle from the 1950s, and those ideas continue to evolve today.
The major issue engulfing the 1960s was the Vietnam War. The country of Vietnam was divided into two parts: the Communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (commonly called North Bietnam) and the noncommunist Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). North Vietnamese and Communist-trained South Vietnamese rebels sought to overthrow the government of South Vietnam and reunite the country. The United States became involved in 1964, when North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the U. S. destroyer Maddox, which was monitoring off the coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Although there is discrepancy over whether this event actually occurred, it was because of this event that President Johnson ordered air strikes against North Vietnam. At this point, America became heavily involved in the war. The fighting in Vietnam was finally ended in 1975 after a devastating defeat for South Vietnam and the United States. The Vietnam War was enormously destructive with military deaths reaching over a million. The U. S. role in the war became one of the most debated issues in the nations history.
Many Americans felt United States involvement was necessary and noble, but many others called it cruel, unnecessary, and wrong, maintaining that U. S. security was never at risk and therefore, they never should have entered the war. The costs of the war aroused more public uneasiness on the urgency of our involvement. The major protesting against the Vietnam War began when President Nixon took over the Commander-in-chief position. The media was the major source of the proof of Americas growing opposition to the war.
Bob Dylans famous protest song tells about the strength of the youths protesting and others need to listen: Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land And dont criticize What you cant understand Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command Your old road Is rapidly agin Please get out of the new one If you cant lend your hand For the times they are a-changin Public distrust for the U. S. government also began to rise when newspapers published a secret government study of the war in 1971.
This study raised questions about decisions and actions of government leaders regarding the war. Overall, the cause and effect of the Vietnam War has caused suspicions and distrust of our government and the Administrations decisions, especially regarding our involvement in foreign affairs that may lead to our involvement in another war, even today. The ideas of such a revolutionary time have never entirely left us; the fear of another Vietnam in particular. In more recent events, Presidents and Congress have often been criticized in their decisions to involve the U.
S. in such crisis as the Gulf War and in Bosnian affairs, and some affairs, such as fighting in Africa, never even gained our support, and therefore never becaming involved. The Vietnam War served as a sign to people who opposed the war that their protests are needed in order to prevent what is often considered such an unnecessary loss of time, money, and most of all, lives. It may have even brought people back to the Wilson administration and the desire to become an isolationist nation once again.
People today are quick to question governments decisions. As of the events of September 11, 2001, it took a devastating loss to the American people to approve ther involvement in war with terrorist groups. Most Americans agree with President Bushs decision to do whatever it takes to eliminate such organizations, but when it comes to the fighting between Israel and Palestine, there are those who again question the necessity of our involvement, perhaps because they dont feel it is a direct threat to our security.
I think the Vietnam War was an important event in history because it showed Americans the need to become involved in war matters. Now, people are more interested in politics and foreign policy than before Vietnam, which is important because the government is supposed to represent our wishes and we cannot get much accomplished when we dont have the knowledge about what is going on in the world. Today one lesson from the war could be: protests arent always the answer, but knowledge is.