Digital History>eXplorations

MyLai MassacreWhere is Vietnam?The Decision To Escalate Lessons of Vietnam Public Opinion and the War Negotiated Settlement The Antiwar Movement Music of the Vietnam Era

Teacher Resources

Infantry Infantry
Infantry
Members of the 3rd Bn, 12th Inf, 4th Inf Div, "take five" during bunker construction on Hill 530.
25 November 1967
US Army Center of Military History
PFC John Sizemore, Co C, stands guard on Hill 742 as the sun sets in the background.
14-17 November 1967
US Army Center of Military History
A helicopter prepares for a resupply mission during an operation conducted 20 miles southwest of Dak To.
10-16 December 1967
US Army Center of Military History

This page contains specific resources developed for teachers using this Exploration.

Entire Unit | Where is Vietnam? | The Decision To Escalate
The Antiwar Movement | My Lai Massacre | Negotiated Settlement
Public Opinion and the War | Lessons of Vietnam
Photography and the War | Music of the Vietnam Era


Focusing Events for Entire Unit:

Vietnam Veterans

The experience of the many Americans in Vietnam offers a great way to begin this unit. Vietnam Veterans of America (http://www.vva.org/) offers many links on the experience of American soldiers in Vietnam. You might also have Vietnam veterans come to your class and discuss their experiences with the students.

If you cannot have a veteran come to your classroom, then the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress provides first-hand accounts.
http://www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/

Wall

Vietnam War Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC is an excellent place to begin discussion. Ask your students to comment on the design, color, and shape of the monument.

Details and pictures about the Vietnam War Memorial

Inquiry questions:

  • What are the dates listed at the beginning and end of the Wall?
  • Why are these dates different from the official starting and ending dates of the Vietnam War? (answers)

Resources for the Wall and Other Memorials:

Unit Resources:

  • Vietnam: A Television History
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/
    This is the Web site companion for the PBS series, "Vietnam: A Television History." This website documents the conflict that changed a generation and analyzes the costs and consequences of this controversial war.
    Site contents include:
    • Who's Who: Learn who the role players were in the war.
    • Vietnam Timeline: This timeline chronicles key history from 1945 to 1997.
    • Reflections on a War: Vietnamese and American survivors of the war look back on their experiences.
    • In the Trenches: From weapons to the My Lai Massacre to MIAs, learn more about the fighting in Vietnam.

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Exploration 1: Where is Vietnam?

Ask students to locate Vietnam on a world map and identify major cities and divisions.

Printable map of Vietnam from the National Geographic Society

This resource, found in the Xpeditions Atlas, is a printable map of Vietnam. The maps available in the atlas allow the user to choose basic or detailed view, turn borders on or off, and save the map as a .pdf or .gif file.
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/
atlas/index.html?Parent=asia&Rootmap=vietna&Mode=d

Resources:

  • Vietnam: A Country Study
    A wealth of information about Vietnam in this online version of a handbook published by the Library of Congress. The handbook presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, and political issues.
    http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/vntoc.html
  • An Introduction to Vietnam
    InterKnowledge Corp.'s description of Vietnamese geography, climate, history, culture, and people.
    http://www.interknowledge.com/vietnam/index.html

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Exploration 2: The Decision To Escalate

Use the following resource to graph the escalation of troops in Vietnam.

Global U.S. Troop Deployment, 1950-2003 by Tim Kane, Ph.D.
Center for Data Analysis Report #04-11

The proposed global redeployment of U.S. troops coupled with the open question of how long U.S. forces will stay in Iraq highlight the need for objec­tive data on force deployments, objectives, and results. Surprisingly, no comprehensive time series data on U.S. troop deployments by year and coun­try seem to exist in a single dataset. This report rem­edies that need by introducing a comprehensive troop deployment dataset for 1950–2003. The Troops dataset is available here:
http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/troopsdb.cfm

View sample graphs for this dataset

Students should read an article concerning the United States involvement in Vietnam and should list the reasons given in each article for escalation. These reasons should be used as a basis for discussion about the 1965 escalation of the war. The students, having the advantage of hindsight, should also examine whether President Johnson was honest with the American public concerning the role of these troops were to play in Vietnam.

1. US orders 50,000 troops to Vietnam
2. “Johnson Orders 50,000 More Men to Vietnam and Doubles Draft; Again Urges U. N. to Seek Peace,” New York Times, 29 July 1965.
3. “President Will Double Draft Call,” New Haven Register, 29 July 1965.

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Exploration 3: The Antiwar Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King was also a voice against the Vietnam War. On April 4, 1967, King delivered a speech entitled "Beyond Vietnam." King stated that the war effort was "taking the young black men who have been crippled by our society and sending them 13,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem."

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Exploration 4: My Lai Massacre

Use the Photostory of the My Lai Massacre by Michael Ray as an overview for this eXploration. (Caution: This Photostory contains graphic photos and may not be appropriate for younger audiences.)

You will need Windows Media Player 7 or later to view this movie. It is a free download.

What is a Photostory? (this link opens in a new window; close that window to return to this page)

Use the questions found in The My Lai Courts-Martial: Questions for Discussion by Doug Linder
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mylai/questions.html

Examples:

  • How do you explain what happened at My Lai?
  • What can be done to prevent such tragedies from happening again?
  • What does My Lai teach us about the nature of evil?
  • Was Calley evil, or was he a more-or-less “normal person in abnormal circumstances”?
  • Would Calley have acted differently had he received more training in the rules of warfare?

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Exploration 5: Negotiated Settlement

Resources:

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Exploration 6: Public Opinion and the War

Walter Cronkite in Vietnam. In 1968, Walter Cronkite was the anchor for the CBS Evening News. The Vietnam War was raging and the American public was deeply divided about U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Cronkite went to Vietnam and brought back reports that, some historians say, changed the U.S. public's attitude about the war.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, watching the telecast, reportedly turned to an aide and said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."

Resources:

  • Recalling the Vietnam War
    This resource, from the University of California-Berkeley's "Conversations with History" website, features video interviews with key people involved in the Vietnam War.
    http://conversations.berkeley.edu/search/node/vietnam
  • The Gallup Brain
    This website is a searchable, living record of 70 years of public opinion. This website allows users to search the questionaires and responses used by the Gallup Poll for the past 70 years. Users can enter keywords or search by decades for statistical data.
    http://institution.gallup.com/search/advanced.aspx

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Exploration 7: Lessons of Vietnam

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Exploration 8: Photography and the War

Tools for analyzing photographs:

Lesson Plans:

Resources for more photographs of Vietnam:

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Exploration 9: Music of the Vietnam Era

Resources:

Connecting to Poetry

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