National Vietnam War Veterans Day



March 29 is National Vietnam War Veterans Day. It is a day to honor the men and women who served and sacrificed during the longest conflict in United States history. Some of your relatives might have been involved in the Vietnam conflict, or in the anti-war demonstrations.

The Vietnam War and active United States involvement in it began in 1954. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy sent a team to report on conditions in South Vietnam. The team advised a build-up of American military, economic, and technical aid in order to help President of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN) Ngo Dinh Diem confront the Viet Cong threat.

By 1962, the U.S. Military presence in South Vietnam had reached some 9,000 troops. In March of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson made the decision to send U.S. combat forces into battle in Vietnam. At the time, this decision had solid support from the American public.

By June of 1965, 82,000 combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and military leaders were calling for 175,000 more by the end of 1965. At the end of July of 1965, President Johnson authorized the immediate dispatch of 100,000 more U.S. Troops, and an additional 100,000 in 1966.

By November of 1967, the number of American troops in Vietnam was approaching 500,000 and U.S. casualties had reached 15,058 killed and 109,527 wounded. A growing anti-war movement was building in the United States. Between July 1966 and December 1973, more than 503,000 U.S. Military personnel deserted.

On November 18, 1969, the largest anti-war demonstration in American history took place in Washington, D.C., as over 250,000 Americans gathered peacefully, calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. The first U.S. Troops were withdrawn at around this time.

Tens of thousands of soldiers received dishonorable discharges for desertion, and about 500,000 American men from 1965-1973 became “draft dodgers” – fleeing to Canada to evade conscription. President Nixon ended draft calls in 1972, and instituted an all-volunteer military in 1973. In January of 1973, the United States and North Vietnam concluded a final peace agreement, ending open hostilities between the two nations.

On February 26, 1974, President Richard Nixon made a proclamation urging Americans to join in commemorating Friday, March 29, 1974, as Vietnam Veterans Day with suitable observances. President Nixon directed appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the United States flag on all public buildings on that day, and requested federal, state, and local governments to hold appropriate ceremonies and observances.

Related Articles at FamilyTree.com:

* Where to Find Vietnam Conflict Era Records Online

* National POW/MIA Recognition Day

* National Medal of Honor Day

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