featured image for posts salonista says

Why Vietnam Still Matters

Re-published from IQ Podcasts Magazine (November 2022 | Vol 2 | page 30)

With Veterans Day fast approaching on November 11, I thought it was relevant to delve into the programs that are currently happening. This time of year, there are many celebrations to honor those who have gone before us in many cultures.  When we think of Veterans, so many of us think of friends and family that may have been far from home for long periods of time or those we may have lost in the throes of war. Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day is celebrated annually on November 11. The days honors the military Veterans of the United States. The holiday coincides with Remembrance Day which marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. The major hostilities of that war were formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That is the day that Armistice went into effect. The day was remade Veterans Day in 1954.

My personal interest comes from have relatives that gave their lives in WWI and that my father and uncles were all in WWII. I vaguely remember the details of the Vietnam War, though it began to spark my interest from my high school days.This led me to be involved in local Veteran’s efforts. A few months back, Gregory A. Daddis, Director of the Center for War and Society and the USS Midway Chair in Modern U.S. Military History gave an exciting talk at the Coronado Optimists and shared the details about an upcoming event at SDSU. I had the honor and extreme pleasure to speak with Professor Daddis and learn a bit about the public event as well as some questions relating to Veterans in general.

The program at SDSU examines how societies go to war, and then deal with the war’s consequences. The program addresses how war has shaped societies’ national security, domestic, and foreign policies. The aftereffects include how societies remember and consider war through history, myth, and memory. The program has had many honors and awards since its inception as it takes a closer look at how the battlefield has affected the areas of culture, environment, race, gender, and mental health. The upcoming program brings distinguished scholars to investigate why the Vietnam war still matters.

The Vietnam War pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. Opposition to the war in the United States bitterly divided Americans. The Paris Peace was signed 1973. Communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975, and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.

The panel discussing “Why Vietnam Matters” consists of:

Beth Bailey Beth Bailey Foundation Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas

David Kieran Colonel Richard R. Hallock Distinguished Chair in Military History, Columbus State University

Robert Brigham Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College

Kara Dixon Vuic LCpl. Benjamin W. Schmidt Professor of War, Conflict, and

Society in 20th-Century America, Texas Christian University

I asked Professor Dadis a few questions:

What are the three most relevant issues in our Veteran population?

  1. Long Term Healthcare
  2. Housing
  3. Recognition for the sacrifices they made for our country

Some facts about our Veterans from Vietnam. Media and pop culture often like to portray Vietnam veterans as a generation of men sent over to fight a war they didn't understand against their will, but the reality is most of those who fought in Vietnam volunteered to be there. By the time the United States began increasing its involvement in South Vietnam, American military units were fully integrated, with an estimated 340,000 African Americans, 80,000 Latinos, 42,000 Native Americans and 35,000 Asian Americans serving in Vietnam. Not all Vietnam veterans made it back home; 2,646 Americans were still missing at the end of the Vietnam War, in all theaters of operations. Since the end of the war and the repatriation of American prisoners of war in 1973, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has recovered or identified 1,062 of those. That means 1,584 U.S. service members are still waiting to come home. An estimated 30% of Vietnam veterans suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder during their lifetime, according to the 1988 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, the last time such a study was done. Still, 97% of Vietnam vets hold honorable discharges.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from studying this topic? In war, not all local problems can be solved by US Military Intervention

Hope to see you all at this historic event that is open to the public: https://cws.sdsu.edu/_resources/docs/events/why-vietnam-still-matters.pdf

Professor Gregory A. Daddis
Office: AL 528 | Phone: (619) 594-4716
Email: gdaddis@sdsu.edu

Gregory A. Daddis is the Director of the Center for War and Society and the USS Midway Chair in Modern U.S. Military History.  Originally from the Garden State of New Jersey, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a master’s degree from Villanova University, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating from West Point, he served for 26 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a colonel. He is a veteran of both Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom and his military awards include the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Meritorious Service Medals. His final assignment in the army was as the Chief of the American History Division in the Department of History at the United States Military Academy.

Daddis specializes in Cold War history with an emphasis on the American war in Vietnam. He has authored five books, including his most recent with Cambridge University Press, Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men's Adventure Magazines (2020). Daddis also has published a trilogy on the American war in Vietnam with Oxford University Press: Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam (2017), Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam (2014) and No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War (2011). Additionally, he has published scholarly articles in some of his field’s leading journals, to include The Journal of Cold War StudiesThe Journal of Military History, and The Journal of Strategic Studies.

Daddis also has participated in several initiatives to help educate the larger public on historical matters. He worked as an official advisor to Florentine Films for the 2017 Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary, The Vietnam War, and has led multiple tours to Vietnam for educational purposes. As part of his military deployments, he served as the Command Historian to the U.S. Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) in Baghdad, Iraq. Daddis also has been a panelist for grant reviews with the National Endowment for the Humanities, performed as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for The Journal of Military History, and volunteered as a Regional Coordinator for the Society for Military History. He has published several op-ed pieces commenting on current military affairs, to include writings in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and National Interest magazine.

Before joining the History Department at SDSU, he directed the M.A. program in War and Society Studies at Chapman University.



Scroll to Top