The recounting of events leading up to the Vietnam War date back to the 1950s, when the spread of communism posed a threat to the entire southeastern sector of Asia. Over the next 20 years, the ideological models of democracy and communism became the focal points of deeply divided differences on the world’s political stage. Communism purportedly posed a serious threat to democracy; the United States, in particular, feared the spread of communism throughout the region as well as other areas of the globe, via the “Domino Effect.” The Eisenhower Administration of the 1950s supported the South Vietnamese government’s stance on democracy, as opposed to the strategy of North Vietnam, which demonstrated a penchant for imposing its socioeconomic system on its neighbor as a way of establishing territorial dominance. As the 50s came to a close, the situation in Vietnam remained at a stalemate.
With little or no resolution in sight, newly elected President Kennedy vowed to uphold Eisenhower’s policies by continuing to stand behind South Vietnam in a passive manner. Kennedy’s inaugural speech had a tremendous impact on shaping public opinion and casting the specter of communism as a threat to free societies, as tensions between North and South Vietnam continued to thicken. Following the assassination of President Kennedy in November of 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the executive role. Slowly and steadily the animosity between the Vietnamese people escalated while in the interim, Johnson vied for reelection; on August 1st and 2nd of 1964, while Johnson trod the campaign circuit, the Gulf of Tonkin incident triggered the spark that changed the complexion of international warfare.
The details as to what actually happened and who fired first are sketchy at best. The USS Maddox allegedly went under fire from three different Hanoi PT boats, which eventually led to massive retaliatory airstrikes and ground-troop deployment by the thousands. Johnson’s second term in office mainly consisted of proposing Vietnam War resolutions that never came to fruition.
The Vietnam era also added another American president to its list in 1968: Richard M. Nixon. The Nixon Administration’s efforts to end the war became even more violent, as the North Vietnamese troops remained relentless in their quest. On April 30th, 1975 the Vietnam War ended, as northern Vietnamese troops attacked the presidential palace and assumed control of Saigon.