This resource guide will support curriculum in several areas:
History--the era of the Vietnam War
Social Studies--repairing the economy of postwar countries
Idea One - Deepening Your Understanding
of Postwar Economic Healing
A. History of United States and
Vietnam Relations--Context and Timelines
1. To set a framework for understanding the history and economics that
have prevailed between the two countries (and between France and Vietnam),
guide your students in researching and constructing a timeline. See
for reference to the 13-part documentary on Vietnam from PBS's The
American Experience. This offers a thorough timeline, with added
reference to paralleled events in American history. You'll find transcripts
there of all 13 episodes, if you can't locate the videos or you can't
wait for them to be rebroadcast.
2. See also the home page for the theater production Miss Saigon
You can see a timeline of the Vietnam War, as well as study guides for
teachers. The site features discussion questions and projects centered
on the musical. One element focuses on the role of culture and tradition
in understanding another country.
3. For an additional overview of events in America which paralleled
the Vietnam War, see the paperback book What Happened When,
Gordon Carruth, Signet, New York, 1989. For example, in 1969:
U.S. combat deaths exceeded those from the entire Korean War.
American bombers dropped tons of bombs on the Vietnamese enemy
At the Paris peace talks, negotiators argued about the shape of
the table to be used in the talks.
The Civil-Rights movement still mourned the 1968 assassination
of Martin Luther King.
4. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death is but one sign of the social unrest
prevalent in America during the Vietnam War era. The violence of the
war spawned a movement unlike anything seen during other 20th-century
wars in America: aggressive peace efforts; anti-war protests; growth
in nonviolent approaches to change; pacifism and draft dodging. Examples
will include: the March on Washington; the freedom bus rides in Mississippi
and other Southern states; the death of civil-rights workers; the assassinations
of Medgar Evars, Malcolm X and other prominent black leaders; civil
riots that followed King's assassination.
Research and discussion sources on these topics will include the following
This site contains a large Martin Luther King, Jr., resource, including
a personal profile, a timeline, a photo tour of the Civil Rights Movement,
and references to King's reliance on India's Gandhi for his nonviolent
approaches to civil rights. You will also find three thought-provoking
essays by journalists on King's influence and legacy.
for a wide-ranging article titled "Notes on the Twentieth Century,"
by novelist Hans Koning, in The Atlantic Monthly. This includes
reference to pacifism after World War I and during Vietnam.
an online bookstore, for The Ethics of War and Peace, edited
by Terry Nardin. Online you'll find a summary and table of contents
for the book.
B. National Development, the Lifting of the Trade Embargo,
and the Appointment of the U.S. Ambassador: Major Steps in Vietnam's
Economic Healing Process
Your students can research how war-torn countries, whether winners
or losers, put their economies back together after the conflict is ended.
Searching the Internet under "Vietnam President William Clinton trade
embargo" will provide several sources for constructing an outline of
an economic development plan. See http://www.vietnamembassy-usa.org/milestonesofusvietnam.html
for an outline of the steps toward establishing and normalizing diplomatic
relations between these two countries. Of special interest on this site
is the text of the "Letters of Credence" presented by each of the countries
to one another as they placed ambassadors in each other's country.
You will see summaries of the steps Vietnam is presently taking to
restore its economy by seeing Vietnam's American embassy's Web site:
This site will explain the economic sectors involved: tourism; agriculture;
oil, gas and mining; industry; and construction. These are some of the
"signs of healing" the article's author refers to.
To go a step further, apply the outline the students create for Vietnam
to two other 20th-century wars the United States was involved in: World
War II and Korea. Research the similarities and differences in how the
United States worked with its wartime enemies once a truce was declared.
For example, did the conditions that inspired the Marshall Plan following
World War II have any parallel after the Vietnam War? For information
on the Marshall Plan, see http://www.nara.gov/exhall/featured-document/marshall/marshall.html.
For a concise biography of Ho Chi Minh, the man so revered in Vietnam,
Idea Two - Vietnam's Postwar Spiritual and Emotional Healing
A. Understanding Bitter Memories
Teenagers know it's easy to say, "Forgive your enemies." They
also know that, when hurt, most of us don't easily get beyond the pain
to move to forgiveness. For those who lived through the injustice and
suffering of the war in Vietnam, forgiveness is difficult. A powerful
"walking billboard for friendship" is America's Ambassador Douglas Peterson,
himself once a Vietnam combatant and prisoner of war. His generous forgiveness
serves as a symbol of Christian love among former enemies.
For those of us who have no experience of war, it can be hard to understand
what needs to be forgiven. Ask your students to research and list five
to 10 events or experiences that hurt each side in this war. For example,
Vietnam was hurt by the slaughter at My Lai; the bombings by American
planes; and the hundreds of fathered children left behind at war's end.
(For more information on children who lost their fathers in the Vietnam
War, see "Sons and Daughters of Vietnam's Dads" at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Jun1997/feature3.asp.
The article is located in the archives section of the site in the June
1997 issue.) America was hurt by the Vietnamese prisons and the treatment
of prisoners of war (POWs) and the unknown status of those missing in
Once the students can identify specific pains of war, they can move
toward a clearer understanding of the steps to forgiveness.
B. Putting a Face to War and the Need for Forgiveness
To appreciate how Americans still grieving their lost loved ones struggle
to deal with their pain, see the Vietnam Veterans home page http://grunt.space.swri.edu/.
Here you'll find pictures and descriptive details on the impact of the
Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Memorial Wall is a focus of
healing for many.
Direct your students to look at "Remembrance" on this site, then to
"Peruse the Wall" for access to individual names. Your students can
search the names on the Memorial Wall, either alphabetically or by state.
The site provides details on each of the 58,202 deceased veterans listed
on the Wall, telling their city of origin, when their tour of duty started,
when they died and how. They may want to search for the name of a deceased
relative, or a deceased veteran from their own town. They can request
a free rubbing of a name from the Wall through the site as well.
This site also offers poems and stories from several war veterans describing
their experiences. (We caution you that there is some strong language
in several of the poems.)
Try also the History Channel's Web site: http://www.historychannel.com.
Here your students can identify one of their episodes called "Monuments
to Freedom: the War Memorials." This is a video tour of the war memorials
in Washington, D.C. The site also contains teacher guides for each episode,
including vocabulary words, discussion questions and suggested research
projects. According to the site, teachers can tape their episodes from
TV and use them for up to one year. The site will give you broadcast
schedules as well.
Try also the book Hunger of the Heart: Communion at the Wall,
by Larry Powell. This is a touching photo essay of the Vietnam Memorial.
Note the photos of the mementos left behind at the Wall every day. The
National Park Service has collected them, and they are now on display
in the Smithsonian Museum (You can check out the Smithsonian Institution's
Web site at http://www.si.edu).
Your students can discuss what these mementos tell us about the people
still so deeply affected by the war and their visits to the Wall.
For an unofficial picture of the people of Vietnam, see http://www.nada.kth.se/~olofr/vietnam/
for a gallery of online photographs of life in Vietnam today. This site
is presented by two private photographers. Use caution with the "Signs"
section of the site, where one picture warning of the dangers of AIDS
may be offensive to some.
C. Active Steps to Forgiveness
Years after the end of the war, perhaps moved by factors such as an
appreciation of the humanity of the former enemy and by a need for economic
healing and development, the two countries are now working to forgive
one another. Direct your students in researching and listing specific
actions being taken by each country to forgive and move forward.
1. Vietnam's efforts at forgiveness of Americans -
Their new rallying cry is: "Vietnam is not just a war; it's a country!"
The Vietnamese have "...gotten beyond their wounds and tragic losses
more quickly than the Americans," states the author of the article.
This is demonstrated in:
the development of tourism
the acceptance of Ambassador Peterson, a former airman who once
dropped bombs on their country
the invitation to writers to visit their country
the movement to establish international relations
2. America's efforts at forgiveness of the Vietnamese -
This is demonstrated by:
the social betterment efforts supported by Catholic Relief Services
the American veterans group from New York who contributed to building
a new school in Vietnam
the lifting of the trade embargo
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for reference. Be aware,
however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles
contained within the sites archives.
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
This site will take you to a number of online publications
http://wire.ap.org/ The Associated
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
The links contained within this resource guide are functional
at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links
may become ineffective.
These links are provided solely as a convenience to you
and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan
Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony
Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the
content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations
regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web
sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do
so at your own risk.