Christian Appy argues that Vietnam was a working-class war because it was mainly minorities or lower class citizens who were being drafted and fighting in the war. Appy states that “roughly 80 percent came from working-class and poor citizens” (Appy). Most of these citizens fought because they could not come up with reasons to escape the war or draft, unlike men who were higher class or white. Vietnam was different than any previous war the Americans had ever fought in. Not only was it taking place in a jungle, but the Vietnamese were more advanced in fighting using guerilla warfare. The Vietnamese weapons were also more suitable than the Americans. One GI wrote the M-16s had a tendency to jam, but “they say if you keep the thing clean, it worked just fine, which is great as long as you’re operating on concrete. But out on the jungle, where its nothing but dirt, its impossible to keep them clean” (Degroot, 263). The conditions the soldiers were fighting in were tough mentally and physically. When the war first started, men were volunteering, and they were committed to doing their duty to support the country, however, as the war continued, volunteer rates were declining, and people did not support the troops as they did in World War II. Degroot says, “a lot of the guys would get newspapers from home, and we`d read about all the protesting and rioting back home about the war. We just couldn`t understand it” (Degroot, 266). Without support and a war that was not ending, many of the U.S. troops became demoralized and were no longer fighting for a cause but were fighting to stay alive. I also think that the war protests really affected the soldiers when they came back home because they did not have any celebratory parades or anything special for them. I think it really made them question why they fought if no one is going to recognize them for what they did.
I am honestly not sure whether a class divide exists in the U.S. military service today. On the one hand, I would not be surprised if there was a class divide because I feel like the military has good benefits and that those benefits can be very appealing. On the other hand, I think many people just genuinely want to join the military because they want to support their country, or they want to join because people in their families were in the military. Therefore, they might want to keep that tradition going. I also think the military might be composed of lower and middle-class citizens of all races instead of predominately lower-class and minority troops.
One thought on “Vietnam War”
When the question about the social divide in the military today first came up, I was unsure about my answer. I am unaware of any injustice that there may be within the military, but you bring up a great point about the benefits of those who serve the United States. With the GI bill, anyone who serves is provided higher education, with certain limitations. This will open up for many citizens in the line of the working class or in poverty to enlist in the military today. There is still a range of demographics in the military today, much different compared to the military demographics during the Vietnam War.