The Vietnam War has been the subject of thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, hundreds of books, and scores of movies and television documentaries. The great majority of these efforts have erroneously portrayed many myths about the Vietnam War as being facts. [Nixon]
“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.” [Nixon]
Myth: Most American soldiers were addicted to drugs, guilt-ridden about their role in the war, and deliberately used cruel and inhumane tactics.
The facts are:
- 91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served [Westmoreland]
- 74% said they would serve again even knowing the outcome [Westmoreland]
- There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and nonveterans of the same age group (from a Veterans Administration study) [Westmoreland]
- Isolated atrocities committed by American soldiers produced torrents of outrage from antiwar critics and the news media while Communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any attention at all. The United States sought to minimize and prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy. Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while Communists who did so received commendations.
- From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 South Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, and schoolteachers. [Nixon] Atrocities – every war has atrocities. War is brutal and not fair. Innocent people get killed.
- Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison – only 1/2 of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes. [Westmoreland]
- 97% were discharged under honorable conditions; the same percentage of honorable discharges as ten years prior to Vietnam [Westmoreland]
- 85% of Vietnam Veterans made a successful transition to civilian life. [McCaffrey]
Vietnam veterans’ personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent. [McCaffrey]
- Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than our non-vet age group. [McCaffrey]
- 87% of the American people hold Vietnam Vets in high esteem. [McCaffrey]
Myth: Most Vietnam veterans were drafted
2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. 1/3 of the men who served in World War II were drafted. [Westmoreland] Approximately 70% of those killed were volunteers. [McCaffrey] Many men volunteered for the draft so even some of the draftees were actually volunteers.
What are some of the myths and facts concerning black veterans, the poor, uneducated, KIA’s, WIA’s, MIA’s statistics on the Vietnam War?
Look for answers in “Part II” of Vietnam War History and Statistics!
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