Browse Exhibits (8 total)

Communism in Vietnam

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As one of the few remaining socialist states that officially adheres to the Marxist-Leninist model, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s only legal political party remains the Communist Party of Vietnam. While no longer officially following the centrally-planned socialist economic model in favor of economic liberalization, the Communist Party of Vietnam retains complete political control over the state. How exactly did this party come to power? While seemingly a relic of the cold war, the days of bipolar balance of power between the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence as well as the US and its western allies, as well as the newly-formed People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong, the Communist Party’s power came as a result of Vietnam’s very own class conflict situation in the days of the French-occupied Indochina. While the communist ideology espoused by Ho Chi Minh certainly helped unify the Vietnamese people against the French, it played a significant role in American involvement in Vietnam as well.

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The Kent State Incident


     On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on an anti-war rally on the campus of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. As noted by Phillip Caputo in his book 13 Seconds, it was the first and only time that American troops had fired upon and killed American students.    

     In order to understand what transpired on the campus of Kent State University on May 4, 1970, there must be a background and a context in which to explain the event. First and foremost, what specifically sparked the ongoing turmoil at Kent State? And who was involved? What were the preceding events that led to the Ohio National Guard firing on an unarmed group of students, killing four and wounding nine others? Although anti-war demonstrations had been gaining traction for at least two years prior to the Kent State debacle, it seems the accelerant was President Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia.




Afghanistan... America's New Vietnam?


On April 30th, 1975, America's involvment in Vietnam came to an abrubt end. After 9 bloody years, and consuming the lives of over 58,000 American KIA, it offcially mark the longest war in U.S. military history. That was until September 11th, 2001. Two weeks after the terrorist attack by Al Queada in New York City, U.S. Special Forces were depolyed to Afghanistan. In March of that next year, Operation Andaconda was under way and the offical start to the conventional war in Afghanistan began. It wasnt until Decemeber of 2014, that President Obama offially ended Operation Enduring Freedom, including direct combat operations, and Afghanistan became the newest, longest war after 13 years. Although through newer military technologies and tactics, the death toll was significantly minimized, the cost still weighed heavy. Many veterans, historians, and media have argued over our continued involvement in the Middle East. Is it worth the loss of money, time, and lives, both to our service members and the local population? Can we really claim victory over an ideal? How do we defeat an enemy that we cannot see? Many have refered to Afghanistan as the new Vietnam, and it is still an answer we seek today. 

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The Known, But Unseen Enemy of the Vietnam War

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Many solider who went to Vietnam talked about the hardship they had to endure during their time in country.  Most of the soldiers who spent time in Vietnam for the Army were draftees, men who were randomly selected to serve when the Army did not have enough man power needed to complete the task at hand.  These men were selected from desk jobs, office custodian, college students, etc. they were indiscriminately picked to serve.  This solves one problem but builds into many other problems, this can help the Army’s lack of personnel, but creates a problem with men who are not as physically fit, and not as well trained as other prior enlisted men.  The geography of Vietnam does not lend well to people who are under-trained and not as physical fit.  Under trained and under fit soldiers weren’t the only victims of the geography just like the draft the geography indiscriminately picked different people to affect.  Some of the problem’s soldiers had to faces when it came to Vietnam was physical terrain, the climate with it’s monsoon and dry seasons, and the jungle vegetation and the problems it had with troop movements and men’s health, all played a part in the outcome of the Vietnam War.


The Last Years: Vietnam and the Draft


I.      Introduction

In High School, in the days when my friends and I had to wait for our parents to pick us up from movies, I stood outside a theatre with Nick. He was nervous. He looked afraid. I knew something was wrong.

“Nick, what’s up, man?”

Nick shook his head and focused on the concrete. He tugged on his jacket and took a deep breath.

“I’m going to die, Justin, that’s what’s up. My grades are shit and the military is going to send me to the Middle East. I’m going to get shot in the back of the head in some desert. My life is over.”

I stared at him. I had no clue what he was talking about. Sure, it was 2002, so the World Trade Center was on all our minds, but he wasn’t a soldier. How could the military force him to fight? If he didn’t want to go, he didn’t have to, right?

After my parents picked me up, I told them about this conversation. They smiled, but I could tell they were worried. They tried to assure me that Nick was overexaggerating and that there would not be a draft.  A draft? Like in football? I was nearly sixteen, almost able to drive and I was completely unaware that in a time of war, I could be drafted into the military.

Later that night, my Dad sat with me and we talked about the draft. He explained that I would have to register when I turned eighteen. It was the law. He told me that my uncle, his brother, Russ was drafted during the Vietnam War. My Grandfather fought in North Africa during World War II. My Dad did not want me to go to war, but he made me aware that I might not have a choice.

When I reached 18, I registered. I watched friends and classmates enlist. I went to college. I was never forced to serve, but I can’t help but think, what if? What if George W. Bush would have sent me to war? Would I have gone? Would I have resisted? Russ, my uncle, was faced with this dilemma. He went. He served, but I don’t know what I would have done. Could I kill? Could I dodge?

During the Vietnam War, thousands of men who were eligible for the draft refused to be inducted into the military and joined the anti-war movement. Between 1965-1972, more than 4,000 young men were imprisoned for draft law violations.[1] In July 1966, in a Gallup poll, only 43 percent of those who asked said the draft was fair while 38 percent said it was unfair.[2] Despite the growing anger over conscription and the war, the United States drafted troops into the military from 1964 until 1973.

II.      Thesis:

Draft protests fueled anti-war sentiments at home and helped pull the United States out of Vietnam.  During the last years of the Vietnam War, the conviction rates of draft resisters, dodgers, and conscientious objectors plummeted. The military struggled to induct troops. Protests erupted in the streets. By 1973, the draft was over. Two years later, Saigon fell to Communist forces. The war was dead, and resistance to the draft helped kill it. 

Protests alone did not pull the United States out of Vietnam, but the draft was a popular reason why Americans opposed the war. Americans were angry. Parents, siblings, relatives, and friends were tired of the carnage. Tens of thousands of young men came home from faraway Asia in body bags. Many of them didn’t want to go to Vietnam. Young men who didn’t want to be soldiers died because they were forced into battle. The American public wanted the draft and the war to end.

Judges and lawyers had their own feelings about the war. As the conflict dragged on, support for the war faded. Draft offenders avoided war and jail. Prosecutors dropped cases. Conviction rates fell. By 1973, the year Nixon stopped the draft, the war in Vietnam was also near its end.

[1] Brock, Peter. 2004. “These Strange Criminals”: An Anthology of Prison Memoirs by Conscientious Objectors from the Great War to the Cold War. Toronto, CA: University of Toronto Press. Pg. 407.

[2] Flynn, George Q. 1985. Lewis B. Hersey: Mr. Selective Service. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Pg. 241.

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Military Technology In the Vietnam War

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    General George S. Patton once said "Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men". While most military historians accept this as gospel, I want to document the weapon side of the conflict. This war encompassed well over thirty years of strife and conflict, which leads to an immense amount of weaponry implimented. From the Japanese occupation in World War II to the French colonization until 1954 to the United States' involvement until 1975, the swath of weapons that you could find on the battlefield would cover the entire globe in terms of manufacture and design. It is simply impossible for anyone to truly determine every single firearm used by both sides due to the sheer amount of variety. Therefore, I will focus on the main weapons utilized as well as some unique ones not mentioned often. 

    This exhibit covers weaponry on both sides of the conflict; the allied powers (US, ARVN, French, and smaller nations) and the North Vietnamese. We take a look at what the average soldier carried as well as their experience with what they carried. We will also look at the development, trials, and field experience with that piece of technology. The troops in Vietnam experienced many issues on the battlefield when it came to weaponry. I want to categorize that and share these episodes. 

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Ronald C. Redding


Ronald (Ron) Cleo Redding was born July 31, 1949, in Omaha, Nebraska. To parents Gerald and Lois Redding. Ron attended kindergarten thru Twelfth in Omaha. He was an Omaha Benson alumni. He was the third of five kids. His siblings consisted of John, Diane, Cindy, and Cathy. Ron is that father of two daughters, Wendy and Sabrina. Married to Patty in the early ’70s. Following with a later divorcing in 2001. Later remarrying in 2017 to Janice. Ronald was joined by his first grandchild Cooper in 2009, followed by Mackenzie in 2011. Since then his family has continued to grow.

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The Draft in the Vietnam War, 1964-1973

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The draft has become one of the most contentious aspects of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Re-established in 1948 after the end of World War II, the draft was often lauded as a hallmark of American democracy until military involvement in Southeast Asia escalated in 1964 and 1965. With the advent of a desegregated military and affordable mass communication devices such as televisions, problems familiar only to the top brass of the military became topics of discussion in many civilian homes. Even though the U.S. military during the Vietnam conflict was overall the best-educated military in history up to that point, men of lower intelligence, disproportionately minorities, often were overrepresented in combat positions due to various reasons.

With a poor understanding of the reasons for being in Vietnam and mounting casualties for little tangible gain, American public opinion turned against the war and the draft. Symbolic burnings of draft registration cards and attacks on draft boards in an attempt to destroy records and impede operations became commonplace beginning in the late 1960s. In 1968, presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon ran on a promise to end the draft altogether and return to an all-volunteer military. Accusations that the draft targeted the poor, minorities, and those of lower educational status led to a modification of the draft procedure beginning in 1969. A commission appointed by President Nixon found that it would be economically and militarily viable to return to an all-volunteer military, and so the bill which gave the government the authority to conduct a draft was allowed to expire in 1973 and not renewed.

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