The Vietnam War was a period of American involvement in Southeast Asia from 1961-1975 in which U.S. troops fought to try to stop communist North Vietnam and their allies from overtaking South Vietnam. Much of the War was fought in a non-traditional guerilla style, and there were many casualties on both sides. As the War continued and more young men were drafted, it became increasingly unpopular with the American public. Photographs and videos shown on the news, many of which were graphic and upsetting, brought the War into the American home.
The Vietnam War was complicated, and students can have a hard time understanding the complex political issues as well as comprehending the emotions felt by U.S. soldiers and the American public. In this unit, students will read letters from Pennsylvania soldiers serving in Vietnam and analyze documents written by various members of the American public. They will better understand the issues that made the War unpopular and will be able to empathize with soldiers serving in Vietnam and concerned citizens at home. This unit should be used after students have begun studying the war and have background knowledge of what the War was about and the major events that occurred.