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Vietnam: The Retrospect: Coming to Grips with Vietnam

Courtesy Reuters

The events of the Vietnam era significantly defined the generation that came of age during that period and is now emerging as a mature force in American life. How our country finally comes to grips with Vietnam will depend on how the Vietnam generation comes to grips with its own experiences. The results will determine for decades how well America faces up to questions of war and peace, and of international relief, development and cooperation.

Vietnam was both a war abroad and an interconnected series of traumatic changes at home. There was the heady idealism of civil rights "freedom rides," the Peace Corps and the Green Berets. But there were also the war, then war protest; assassinations; civil strife; ascendancy of the women’s rights and the environmental movements; and the disillusion of Watergate—a debacle rooted in the attempts of White House "plumbers" to stop leaks of Vietnam-related information.

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