Autumn 2017 edition - page 40-41

of America’s total population. This was the high-
est proportion of African Americans to serve in any
American war and was of particular significance and
controversy as the war could be seen to foreshadow
the progression of the American Civil Rights move-
ment. This disproportionate number of drafted
African Americans highlighted the inequality within
American Society during the period and was viewed
by many as being illustrative of the evident preju-
dice they faced, and the way in which their lives
were perceived to be worth less than the lives of
those who were white. Institutionalised racism
and the government’s readiness to involve African
Americans in a foreign conflict, from which many
would not return, highlighted the injustice of both
America’s war withVietnam and American society’s
failing to progress from segregation, isolation and
prejudice. Resultantly, this could be seen to add fuel
to both the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements.
In conclusion, theVietnamWar and its effects to
those involved, particularly American soldiers,
still remains to this day largely unknown. Former
American President Nixon describes it as “mis-
reported then and misremembered now” and
stated that “no event in American history is more
misunderstood.”Whilst to a certain extent there
is truth in the uncertainty of events which defined
the war and conflicting evidence of the conflict can
be seen as illustrative of this, numerous personal
accounts suggest that for those involved it was a
period many find difficulty in forgetting and mov-
ing forwards from, making “misremembering”
inconceivable. Irrespective of the true extent of
drug use inVietnam, the conflict remains one which
is still believed by many to be unjustified and one
where the lives lost on both sides are regarded to
many to have been lives ‘wasted’ by the conflict.
Overall evidence gathered in the years following
the conflict in particular, suggests that drug use
and psychological conditions affected a minority,
and whilst some soldiers have been vulnerable to
the challenging environment they were faced with,
this cannot necessarily be said for all of those who
served inVietnam. As a result it can be argued that
not all of those involved are entitled to being per-
ceived as victims of the conflict and that the actions
of violence and brutality committed by some of
those who served towards Vietnamese civilians and
prisoners of war involved in the conflict are inex-
cusable, irrespective of the circumstances in which
they were committed.
Dylan Gonnermann 12LB
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