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Audio
"Saigon Bride,"
Joan Baez

The Impact of Vietnam

Girls Say Yes...United States military involvement in Vietnam began as early as the mid-1950s in an effort to halt the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Vietnam was a country divided, with the South Vietnamese government aided by the United States and communists forces backing the government of North Vietnam.

The United States government believed that if communist aggressors in North Vietnam were to gain full control of the country, then the rest of Southeast Asia would eventually fall to communist rule as well. By 1963 President Kennedy had tripled U.S. aid, and the number of military advisors present in Vietnam had risen from several hundred to sixteen thousand. As American casualties rose, so did the protest against the United States's involvement.

Vietnam War buttonBy 1965 the push to increase American military occupation in Vietnam forced the Selective Service draft boards to do away with many of the draft deferment categories. As a result, antiwar protests on college campuses swept the nation.

End the Vietnam War buttonJoan Baez had been a social activist since the start of her professional folk-singing career in 1960. She traveled the country, lending her voice to such causes as civil rights and voting rights. Baez and her husband were jailed during a antiwar, antidraft protest. She recorded several Vietnam protest songs ("Saigon Bride" by Joan Baez, Audio 4:50), and in 1972 drew public criticism for participating in a tour of North Vietnam. This visit produced her album Where Are You, My Son?

There are many sources on-line for historical information on the war in Vietnam, including one produced by Vassar College for a seminar taught by historian Robert Brigham.

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