By David Tucker
National Vietnam War Veterans Day officially is observed March 29, which is the date in 1973 when the last of American combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam.
The quiz below, from the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio, provides an opportunity for you to test your knowledge of the era in which the Vietnam conflict took place.
1. Most historians trace the Vietnam conflict back to what year?
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. (Wikipedia)
2. In what year did the United States officially declare war on Vietnam?
3. What motivated the United States to become involved in Vietnam?
American foreign policy was largely shaped by the Truman Doctrine (1947), which held that communism must be contained and that governments susceptible to communist infiltration and takeover must be assisted. If this did not occur then communism would expand its global reach, jumping from one nation to its neighbours (the Domino Theory). This particularly relevant to Asia, where national governments were weaker and borders were poorly controlled. (Alpha History)
4. Which U.S. president did not play a role in Vietnam?
There were 5 U.S. Presidents during its involvement in the Vietnam War. They were: Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961), John F. Kennedy (1961-1963), Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 – 1969), Richard Nixon (1969 -1974), Gerald R. Ford (1974 – 1977). (The Vietnam War)
5. Approximately how many American troops were deployed to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict?
6. Which of the following declared the United States’ formal involvement in the Vietnam War?
It is of historical significance because it gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of conventional military force in Southeast Asia. (Wikipedia)
7. Which of the following student groups was not part of the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War?
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) formed at the University of Michigan and issued the Port Huron Statement, which criticized US foreign policy and attacked the Cold War assumptions underlying it. The Free Speech Movement arose to challenge the university’s restrictions on political speech and assembly. The Underground Press Syndicate (UPS), later known as the Alternative Press Syndicate (APS), was a network of countercultural newspapers and magazines formed in mid-1966 by the publishers of five early underground papers. (Kahn Academy)
8. Who leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers, the top-secret government study of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam that damaged the credibility of U.S. foreign policy in the eyes of many Americans, to the New York Times?
Daniel Ellsberg Explains Why He Leaked The Pentagon Papers In 1971, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in the hope that they would help end the Vietnam War. His story is portrayed in the new film The Post. (NPR)
9. Which journalist said, “For it seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.”
Acknowledging that his “analysis must be speculative, personal, subjective,” he nonetheless laid bare the stark realities of the situation in Vietnam: “For it seems now more certain than ever, that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past.” (Saturday Evening Post)
10. Approximately how many Vietnam War troops still remain unaccounted?
The U.S. continues to obtain access to historical wartime records and archives that provide information relevant to the fates of missing Americans. Today, more than 1,600 Americans remain unaccounted for from the conflict. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)
Answers: 1-A, 2-D, 3-D, 4-B, 5-C, 6-A, 7-C, 8-A, 9-D, 10-B
About the Writer
David Tucker is the director of teacher programs at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University and general editor of Ashbrook’s “Core Document Collection” curricula resources, including the forthcoming collection “Vietnam and Social Change in the 1960s: Core Documents.” He wrote this for InsideSources.com.