Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was fought basically to stop the spread of communisim in southeast Asia. The United States committed troops to Vietnam in 1964 and withdrew them nine years later in 1973.

Most of the fighting took place in South Vietnam between Vietnamese government soldiers aided by the United States and guerrilla soldiers aided by communist North Vietnam. The conflict began as a Vietnamese civil war and escalated into an international conflict. Almost 3 million US men and women were sent thousands of miles to fight for what became a questionable cause. In total, it is estimated that over 2 million people on both sides were killed.

The War in Vietnam divided our nation like no other war that our country has participated in except the Civil War. 

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about the Vietnam War.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about the Vietnam War.

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Virtually spend time at the Gulf of Tonkin. This gulf is in the northern part of Vietnam in the South China Sea. A 1964 attack on U.S. naval forces stationed in the gulf by North Vietnamese gunboats led to increased U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
Hitchhiking Vietnam
Travel to modern-day Vietnam and learn about its ancient past and history of conflict.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a route where supplies from North Vietnam travelled to Vietcong soldiers fighting in South Vietnam. The U.S. bombed the trail but the bombings were not entirely successful, and the route remained open. It is thought that the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the ability to move troops and supplies from the north to the south played a major role in the victory of the communists in South Vietnam.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Travel to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was built in 1982 and is one of the most visited attractions in Washington, D.C. It was designed by Maya Ying Lin. The names are inscribed in the chronological order of their dates of casualty. There are more than 58,000 names inscribed on the wall. The memorial also contains a statue of three soldiers by Frederick E. Hart erected in 1984 and a statue of three nurses and a wounded soldier by Glenna Goodacre erected in 1993.

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People To See

A Life in Public Service: Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He was one of the major "players" in forming U.S. policy about Vienam, and he supported the military involvement of the United States in the conflict.
Admiral John S. McCain, Jr.
During the Vietnam War, McCain was Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater from 1968 to 1972.
Captain John Sidney McCain III
John McCain was a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War. He later ran for president in 2008.
General Creighton Williams Abrams Jr.
General Abrams oversaw the war efforts as the troops went from 530,000 soldiers to 30,000.
General William Westmoreland
Read about the American General who commanded American military operations in the Vietnam War at its peak from 1964 to 1968, with the Tet Offensive.
Ho Chi Minh
Meet Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese Communist leader, and read a letter that he wrote to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.
John F. Kennedy: Materials, Resources, and Activities for Students
Read several primary source materials about the 35th President of the United States.
LBJ Biography
This timeline tells the story of the 36th President of the United States.
The Life of Richard Nixon
Check out the life of the last President during the Vietnam war.
Names on the Wall
See a list of casualties and some stories of people who died in Vietnam.
Nguyen Cao Ky
Read about one of the great military leaders of South Vietnam.
Nguyen Van Thieu
Here is an obituary for the one of South Vietnam leaders.
Taps Gallery, Vietnam Veterans
Check out tributes written by family and friends about Vietnam veterans.
Vietnam: Stories Since the War
Meet the people of Vietnam and learn what their life has been like since the end of the Vietnam War.
Women on the Wall
See a list and stories of the women who died in Vietnam.

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Things To Do

Battlefield: Vietnam
Find a timeline of the war.
The Fall of Saigon
From the New York Times, read articles relating to the last days of Saigon. And then read about Saigon 25 years later.
History of Vietnam and the Vietnam War
Vietnam War from the perspective of the vets who fought there on both sides, the memories, the Vietnam war pictures and the humanitarian work that VWAM now performs in Vietnam.
The History Place Presents the Vietnam War
Learn about the background of Vietnam, beginning in 1945, and the political upheavals which led to the war.
Investigating the Vietnam War
Read interviews with Vietnam War veterans.
The Vietnam War
Examine this picture essay of the war, "illustrating some of the incredible conditions under which soldiers from both sides lived, fought, played and ultimately died."
The Wars for Vietnam: 1945 to 1975
From primary source documents, help students learn about both sides--the pros and the cons--of the intervention of the United States in southeast Asia.

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Teacher Resources

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  • Barr, Roger. The Vietnam War.San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, c1991.
  • Devaney, John. The Vietnam War. New York: F. Watts, c1992.
  • Gay, Kathlyn. Vietnam War. New York: Twenty-First Century Books, 1996.
  • Gibson, Michael. The War in Vietnam. New York: Bookwright Press, 1992.
  • Hoobler, Dorothy. Vietnam, Why We Fought: An Illustrated History. New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House, c1990.
  • Kent, Deborah. The Vietnam War: "What Are We Fighting For?". Hillside, N.J., U.S.A.: Enslow Publishers, c1994.
  • Marrin, Albert. America and Vietnam: The Elephant and the Tiger. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1992.
  • Nickelson, Harry. Vietnam. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, c1989.
  • Wormser, Richard. Three Faces of Vietnam. New York: F. Watts, c1993.
  • Wright, David K. A Multicultural Portrait of the Vietnam War. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Benchmark Books, c1996.