A quite disturbing theory it was, yet few were willing to stop it from infesting itself into the public’s minds for a longer time than necessary. The much feared domino theory, was growing alive by the day as eight thousand, five hundred sixty eight miles away from the American homefront, a ferocious air force teeming with determined communists in North Vietnam prepared to go to war against the southern part of its own country. First it had been Russia, then China, and now the country of Vietnam was at the verge of falling into the same domino like path of communism that the Western governments still feared so much. Not surprisingly, the American presidents claimed they would “pay any price, bear any burden” to prevent communism to grow in Asia. Along with this, deep roots in the Cold War and its inescapable grudge against Russia and its allies accentuated America’s decision to intervene in the Vietnam War, to prevent the overtake of Communism in the area. Although the American government’s full fledged support of the Vietnam War would suggest otherwise, the irony unfolding upon the American public was very unlooked-for; protests, marches, and rebellions spread over the country, engulfing it in its anti-war atmosphere. The Vietnam War had its beginnings at the Geneva conference in 1954, when it was split across the 17th parallel into a Southern and Northern portion. This was mainly due to the newly independent Vietnam’s want to overtake the abandoned French outpost in the town of Dien Bien Phu. Battling its former owner, France, Viet Minh, Vietnam’s chief guerilla force spent two months in bloody battles against French forces, who at first were determined to continue colonial rule over Indochina. But with Chinese support of Ho Chi Minh, the communist prime minister of Vietnam at the time, the French suffered major losses, with the most prominent one being the loss of the entire French base in Dien Bien Phu. A once helpful America, who helped the French against the Vietnamese during the first part of the war, now denied any more help when it came to direct French intervention. This, abridged with the fact that the war was a lengthy, unapologetically depleting one in terms of wealth and public patience, finally prompted the prime minister of France to discuss the issue of Vietnam in the Geneva Conference, scheduled for the summer of 1954. By July, the French had drawn up and signed an agreement with Vietnam (the Geneva Accords) – Vietnam would be split at the 17th parallel for two years, during which the country would elect a president to reunite Vietnam. Meanwhile, no foreign troops would be allowed to enter for those two years. Communist, Ho Chi Minh, thought this agreement deprived him of his victory, but still signed nonetheless. America, also present at the conference, thought otherwise, and did not sign (along with some other countries, including South Vietnam). They believed that the French agreement was directly in favor for communists. A mostly Communist North Vietnam combined with a nationalistic Vietnam as a whole, would most likely vote for Ho Chi Minh, the man that freed their country from colonial rule. This would mean that Vietnam would become a total Communist, adding to the list of dominoes already fallen in America’s viewpoint. A frenzied U.S government began solving this problem its own way by developing its own South Vietnam policy. The roots of the emerging conflict between the South and the North were ingrained in opposing viewpoints. The North believed in a Communist society, whereas the South fought to preserve a more Western-like, democratic government. U.S supported the South anti-communist government lead by Ngo Dinh Diem, in a hope to overtake the North side of Vietnam and create a unified, democratic nation of Vietnam. It helped build an anti-communist government and provided financial and military aid to South Vietnam – practically anything, to save it from falling to Communism. Thus, it was in the summer months of the year 1954, when the stage was officially set for U.S intervention in Vietnam. It took awhile for the U.S military to be fully involved in Vietnam, however – a five to six year gap would stand between the Geneva conference and direct U.S military offense. The attacks from the United States’s side didn’t officially start for a long time, most likely due to the ban of foreign troops present in Vietnam for two years. By 1956, the year marking the end of the ban, the US Military Assistance Advisor Group (MAAG) took it upon themselves to train South Vietnamese forces against enemy forces from the North. Before this, Ngo D. Diem, later who became the president of the Republic of Vietnam, was urged to discuss problems with the North, but denied to respect the Geneva Accords. Lack of cooperation with the Northern Communists soon proved to be fatal, however; by 1957, communists rebel groups killed 400 South Vietnamese officials, while thirty seven more armies formed along the Mekong Delta. Not far out in the same year, thirteen Americans in Vietnam were injured by terrorist bombings in the city of Saigon. By 1959, Group 559 from North Vietnam began pushing weapons and ammunition into South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Later on that year, guerilla forces attacked a MAAG compound in Bien Hoa, about 20 miles northeast of Saigon, the capital, causing the death of the first Americans involved in the military to die in war: Major Dale R. Ruis and Master Sergeant Chester M. Ovnand. The MAAG organization attacked was helping the Ministry of Defense, Joint General Staff, and other commanders at the time. By 1960, neither the home front or the Vietnam front seemed especially positive. North Vietnam imposed a mandatory military conscription for all men in April, which was followed by the U.S announcement of increasing the number of MAAG advisors in South Vietnam above 342 – the maximum number declared by the Geneva conference. By the end of 1960, total military personnel summed up to 900 people. Back home, president John F. Kennedy was elected as president, winning by a very thin margin over Republican nominee Richard Nixon. He vowed to not let South Vietnam fall to communism, but his promise would be short lived. Kennedy’s approval of the CIP plan, which gave up money to increase army size in Vietnam officially showed his intent of war with North Vietnam. His main strategy was to defeat the Vietcong, formally called the National Liberation Front, which was established by North Vietnam to overthrow Diem’s government. With a re-election of Diem as president and Lyndon B. Johnson’s (the Vice President at the time) strong portrayal of support, Diem seemed to have full control at the time. After requests from President Diem, President Kennedy agreed to increase the number of people in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) to 200,000. In mid-October, General Maxwell D. Taylor arrived in Vietnam to look at the situation unfolding. To only the President of U.S, he concluded that the guerrilla forces would have a definite victory of South Vietnam without more help from America. Under the cover of helping the Mekong Delta with flood relief, Kennedy significantly increased advisors and provided helicopters along with other aircraft. Because Diem was a Catholic, and happened to move certain Buddhists from their positions in the Vietnamese government, many Buddhist monks began to set themselves on fire in public to protest against the intolerance the president had towards other religions. Other than Marines being sent to Vietnam to help fight the Vietcong, nothing of much importance took place during 1962. JFK held his word to General Taylor; by the end of 1962 total U.S military personnel in Vietnam was 11,300 people. The next year proved to be much different from the previous in terms of advancement during the war. At the Battle of Ap Bac, the ARVN suffered a critical loss against the Vietcong (although they were equipped with U.S helicopters, bombs, and armored personnel carriers), with about 80 dead, and over 100 injured. Several American soldiers also lost their lives in the battle. With ever increasing Buddhist protests and raids, things did not look good for Diem. After seeing the intentions of Diem when he saw raids against Buddhists and seeing the potential break down of the government under Diem, Kennedy refused to thwart a coup d’etat against him. November was a tragic month for both countries, as Diem was murdered in the coup d’etat and three weeks later, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. General duong Van Minh took over for South Vietnam, while Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson inherited the task of dealing with the Vietnam War. The year 1963 ended as a bad one for both countries as the Strategic Hamlet Program also failed; it was a program developed to shelter the the rural population of South Vietnam. But as it lacked social and economic care, the plan failed. The next year began with another overthrow of government – General Nguyen Khanh took control of government from Minh. By March it was clear that approximately 40 percent of South Vietnam was in the grip of the Vietcong. A bit frightened by this news, Johnson once again emphasized on the importance of preventing Vietnam from falling to Communism, using the Domino Theory. He also took immense measures to improve the situation in Vietnam by increasing the army by another 50,000 men, raising the pay in military, providing new vehicle, air, and river craft, and creating programs to retaliate against North Vietnam. The Vietcong were far from discouraged, however. On August 2, they launched an attack against the USS Maddox, which was a destroyer ship off the coast of North Vietnam, in the Tonkin Gulf. The Vietcong fired torpedoes against the destroyer, but eventually two of the three torpedo boats were damaged and the third crippled by the Maddox’s return fire itself. A second attack happened on the same ship two days later, but the certainty of this attack is not known. Seeing this, the United States Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, allowed U.S to take any action necessary with the army, navy, air force, or Marines, to repel against an attack from enemy lines. This indirectly allowed Johnson to wage war against the Vietcong without actually declaring war against any country or area. It gave him the rights to send combat troops and execute military operations without using an excuse to do so. Right before his official election as president to serve four more years, the Vietcong once more attacked the U.S airbase at Bienhoa, on November 1. Four Americans were killed and five aircraft were destroyed, but they did not respond to the attack immediately. If anything, the Americans learned that along with offense, they had to be able to defend their stations in South Vietnam as well. This attack greatly intensified the war for the Americans. It got even worse when the Vietcong bombed the Brinks Hotel – 107 Americans, South Vietnamese, and Australians died. The number of military personnel reached 23,000 by the time 1964 ended. Despite the horrific tragedies the Americans stationed in South Vietnam faced, the main part of war was still yet to come. The year of 1965 started with the killing of eight Americans when the Viet Cong attacked the military base at Pleiku in February. The month of March proved to be a productive one, as the U.S started its operation of Rolling Thunder, which was a sustained bombing program to discourage the North Vietnamese from attacking the South. The operation would continued for three years, continuously executing bombing raids over North Vietnam. After car bombs killed Americans in South Vietnam, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that U.S should do more on the offensive side to hurt North Vietnam, now formally president, Johnson, approved the National Security Action Memorandum 328 (NSAM) in early April. NSAM allowed him to deploy two more Marine Battalions in Vietnam and increase the military personnel by another 18-20,000 men. The approval of the NSAM also gave Johnson the right to have a more active role in the Vietnam war. By the end of April, seventeen more battalions were sent to South Vietnam. After the first regular combat unit was stationed to South Vietnam in May, the U.S halted the Rolling Thunder Operation temporarily to see if negotiations with North Vietnam were possible; but a clear unwillingness to cooperate by the North prompted U.S to continue the air raids. For the rest of the year of 1965, the Vietnam War did nothing but escalate; it would take another five years for it to gradually cease. The fact that Ho Chi Minh declared that his people were ready to fight for another twenty years, if it came to that, certainly did not make the war for U.S less stressful. By July, the president announced troops sizes in Vietnam to increase to 125,000 men, which in turn meant a steep incline in the number of men monthly drafted: from 17,000 for 35,000 every month. The changes may have seemed like a winning strategy to the president, but the Americans certainly did not feel the same way. The attitude for the war was a whole different story at home. Although most Americans had been quiet until now, this began to change through the years of 1964 and 1965, and would continue to stay in this changed manner for years until the U.S withdrew from the war. Anti-war movements weren’t new to U.S; for years beforehand, during the start of the Cold War Era, small peace movements gained popularity – those based on Quaker or Unitarian beliefs. But a lack of attention to these groups, such as Sane Nuclear Policy or Student Peace Union, and new emerging peace groups eventually led to the disappearance of these smaller peace movements by the mid-1960’s. The one group that did remain popular, and would continue to grow in popularity for years to come, was the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) group. Although at first the SDS group, mostly run by radical college students, focused on domestic problems (such as Civil Rights) by 1965, most college campuses had an anti-war movement. It was like the calm before the storm; a pile of logs without the spark of fire. The final spark that unified the anti-war movement across the country came when the Rolling Thunder operation began in February of 1965. On an exponential level, this greatly swelled the movement for peace. Immediately following the Rolling Thunder operation, the SDS organized a march during the month of February and March, where dozens of students gathered at the Oakland Army Terminal, the place where troops going to Southeast Asia departed from. Towards the end of March, faculty from the University of Michigan began imitating a practice used for Civil Rights seminars: “teach-ins”. Teach-ins were sessions that educated large groups of Americans about the country’s moral reasons of intervention and political involvement. It helped greatly span the anti-war movement, since campuses throughout the country began using the teach-ins, to educate the masses about the peace movement in a shorter span of time. By April of 1965, the anti-war movement was no longer one limited to college campuses – it had grown into a national movement. Representing a truly national outrage, 25,000 protesters gathered in Washington to protest. But these protests were just the beginning of the extent that the Americans would go to for peace. Several pacificists, such as Alice Herz and Norman Morrison even set themselves on fire to spread popularity of their beliefs. By October of 1965, the world showed America’s protesters that they weren’t alone; simultaneously, anti-war protests were held in 80 cities around the globe, including Paris, Rome, and London. More rallies and acts of mass civil disobedience failed to cease throughout the year, but the president continued on with the war, with full speed ahead, as he increased the number of troops to 400,000 by the end of the year. The next year, 1966, was fully comprised of massive bombings; there were up to a hundred missions per day at its peak. By the 28th of March, the entire 25th Infantry Division was sent to Vietnam, which was only the start of the many other divisions that would find themselves deployed in Indochina. In April, for the first time, B-52’s were used to heavily bomb the Mugia Pass. The Mugia Pass was the route used by the North Vietnamese Army to to send personnel and supplies for their own troops in South Vietnam. Afterwards, South Vietnamese Government troops were able to take the cities Hue and Danang. In a meeting that followed with Lyndon B. Johnson and South Vietnamese President Nguyen Cao Ky, the U.S president agreed to continue helping South Vietnam by sending more troops, as long as the south Vietnamese government made clear attempts to expand democracy and created a better economic life for its citizens. Back home, American citizens were once again not too happy with this compromise with South Vietnam that president Johnson had made. If anything, 1966 was an even more of a rougher year back home than the previous. Hundreds of veterans from WWI, WWII, and the Korean War rallied in New York City, while they burned their discharge and separation papers. A poll taken by Gallup showed that the majority, 59% of Americans believed that sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake. Not far off in May, 10,000 picketers rallied outside the Washington Monument, demanding an end to the war. As more and more rallies picked up fuel, protesters did as well. For instance, over 3,000 unified people across the nation refused to pay all of their taxes, which went towards funding for the war. As the number of men being drafted into war grew insanely high, dozens refused to go to war, with one of the most famous being boxing champion, Muhammad Ali. As a result of him protesting against the war and refusing to be drafted, he was sentenced to 5 years in jail, was deprived of his championship title, and was banned from boxing for three years. The year of 1967 began with the operation Cedar Falls. It was mainly an on ground effort to defeat all Vietcong operations near the city of Saigon, in South Vietnam. The Cedar Falls Operation helped find an intricate system of tunnels that the Vietcong were using for their own personnel and as their headquarters, called the Iron Triangle. By March, U.S’s aid increased 150 million dollars more than the original amount, ending with a total spending of 700 million dollars in one year for the Vietnam war. Despite the massive increase in supplies and men, this year proved to be quite an optimistic one for South Vietnam. From the past 45 major battles/engagements with enemy troops, South Vietnam had won 37 of them. As for American troops, they had won every battle that they had fought that year. These improvements gave the U.S government new hope, as General Westmoreland stated very well, “I am absolutely certain that whereas n 1965 the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing”. By the end of the year, 486,000 U.S personnel were stationed in Vietnam. Nonetheless all the optimism, protests back home still continued. One of the more well known marches was held on March 25; it was a march led by Martin Luther King Jr., as a call for peace and no war. In his one of his speeches, he also portrayed his concern for racism in combat deaths – although African Americans only accounted for some of the American population, their number of deaths while on military duty were much more than the proportion of their population. Another extremely prominent protest took place in October, where 100,000 protesters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, and 30,000 continued marching around the Pentagon. This did not end well however, because they were brutally met with U.S Marshals protecting the building, who arrested hundreds of protesters that night. One of the more brutal riots took place in June, in Los Angeles, where 80 different anti war groups had gathered. However, the massive amount of people got into clashes with the police, which lead to dozens of arrests and attacks on the marchers with billy clubs. Although the North Vietnamese seemed to losing during the year of 1967, they did have an interesting and clever trick up their sleeves for the following year. Tet, the lunar holiday for all in Vietnam, was a time where most travelled to spend the holiday with relatives. Since this holiday was traditionally a time where both sides called a truce and did not fight, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese used this as a time to plan a joint attack on all the major cities in South Vietnam. The fact that many travelled to spend time with relatives provided cover for the National LIberation Forces, who supported communists, to move around in South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh and the other groups planned the offensive in hopes of encouraging U.S to possibly withdraw from the war, as they were tired from the guerrilla attacks and regular bombing. The Tet Offensive took place in three separate phases. The first phase, the most famous one, lasted from January 30-31 and managed to attack most of the cities with the heaviest U.S troop presence. Apart from physical destruction, the attacks on the cities of Hue and Saigon also had a psychological impact, since it showed U.S that the NLF forces were much stronger than president Lyndon B. Johnson had shown them to be. Surprisingly, the NLF forces even managed to break through the outer walls of the U.S embassy at Saigon.