"Genealogy: The T.V. War"

Shane Budlong
2 January 2009

The picture I chose to use for my Genealogy paper is a picture of my dad playing in the "Student vs. Staff"¯ basketball game at Novi high school in 1971.

Many things were going on in the world during this time period. There was a counter culture movement by the young adults or "hippies"¯ which emphasized drug use, free sex, and peace. Civil rights became a national movement, which not only helped African Americans, but also helped women gain freedoms that discrimination and prejudices denied. Even with all this going on, the most influential event that took place was the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War is one of the most protested and publicly hated wars that America has ever been involved in. Many anti-Vietnam war groups formed, and held rallies, marches, and teach-ins. The first teach-in was held at the University of Michigan in March of 1965. (6)

The Vietnam War was fought between the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF), who were fighting the South Vietnamese and the United States. The war started in 1959 and ended in 1975 and even though the war started in 1959 the United States did not get its military involved with the war until 1965. America's involvement with the war came from the Viet Cong attacking a U.S military base in Pleiku, which resulted in the deaths of eight Americans and 100's wounded. (1)

Some of the major battles of Vietnam were the siege of Khe Sanh, the Tet offensive, the first battle of Saigon, and the fall of Saigon. (5) This war also showed the effected use of guerrilla warfare tactics. One of the most challenging projects the NLF undertook was building an extensive tunnel system. This system would not just be used for shelter, but used as fighting bases were attacks could be planned from. (2) By the time the war had ended, the United States had lost almost 60,000 American soldiers and another 304,000 were wounded. (1)

One of the main reasons that there was such a public backlash against the Vietnam War is that it was the first televised war. Michael Arlen called it "the first living room war"¯. (4) It was called this because every night Americans could turn on the T.V. and see actual battle scenes taking place. This allowed them to see the horrors of what the frontline of war actually looked like. Some of the most remembered broadcasts include the piece CBS aired in 1965 which showed Marines lighting the roofs of the village Cam Ne on fire. Also during the Tet offensive in 1968, NBC broadcasted Col. Ngyuyen Ngoc Loan shooting a captive in the head in the streets of Saigon. In addition to those two events, in 1972 NBC televised the aftermath and the gruesome effects of an errant napalm drop in which the South Vietnamese dropped napalm on their own citizens because they thought they were the enemy.

Growing up in the 1960's and 1970's is completely different than growing up now. Because the military could not get as many soldiers as they needed, the government enacted a draft. (2) Every male 18 years and older were entered in the draft, and if your numbers got drawn you were then part of the military.

Because my dad was 18 when this picture was taken, he had the chance to get drafted into the military and forced to fight in Vietnam. Besides having the horrible chance of getting drafted to Vietnam, he got to be apart of a period in time when political policies were being challenged by the citizens. Old prejudices and racial discrimination were being fought also. While the Vietnam war might not have cost the most American lives, it was the war that open peoples eyes to the horrors of what war really is like.

Works Cited

[When it was first published in 2009, all of the citations where hot links. However, most of the resources are no longer available on-line.]

  1. The Vietnam War. 13 Dec. 2008.

  2. Battlefield: Vietnam. PBS. 13 Dec. 2008.

  3. Grosvenor Jr, Charles R. Timeline of the Seventies, 1971. 13 Dec. 2008.

  4. Vietnam on Television. MBC. 13 Dec. 2008.

  5. Vietnam War Battles. 13 Dec. 2008.

  6. "Anti-Vietnam War Movement," MicrosoftĀ® EncartaĀ® Online Encyclopedia 2008.

Shane Budlong's father playing basketball.