The Vietnam War can be described in a single word-?controversy. From the circumstances leading up to the immersion of American troops in war to the lack of public support, the Vietnam War is often looked at today as a war that should have never happened. President Lyndon Johnson, operating on the Domino Theory feared that if Vietnam became communist then all of Southeast Asia would follow. Johnson rapidly expanded the American military presence in order to contain communism.In 1 964, Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attacked two American destroyers in the Gulf of Tontine, and by a ritually unanimous vote Congress passed the Gulf of Tontine Resolution. This allowed the US government to do pretty much anything necessary for the war.
It is now known that President Johnson misinformed Congress about the environment of the attacks and the actions of the destroyers (Quinn). The American public supported the war at first. After all, the Vietnamese attacked Americans first in the Gulf of Tontine. However, as the war went on more troops were sent to line in Vietnam and the number of protests dramatically increased.These protests were fueled by the draft, the belief that America was fighting in a Civil War, and the amount of American causalities suffered. Sills House, the author of Eli the Good, highlights some of the opinions, from patriotism to protests, of the American public in his book. Throughout the book, Eli struggles with whom to side with.
Should he pick his Aunt Nell or his father Stanton? Stanton, a Vietnam War veteran, views those who protest the war in a negative light. His sister happens to be one of the very people protesting the war.In the beginning of the book, the reader sees an argument between Nell and Stanton; every argument always leads back to Knell’s action in New York. During the argument in the beginning of the book, Stanton sheds light on how he was treated when coming back into the country. “You’re no better than those sons of botches in Boston who spat on me when I walked down the street in my uniform. ” Nell had put her hand on his arm and said, “But most of us weren’t like that. ” “Baby-killer, they said.
… Baby-killer, And spat on me. ” (House 38-40) This was the scene for many soldiers that name back from war.In 1919, at the end of World War I, the soldiers returned home to victory parades, marching bands, speeches, and the good will of all the American citizens. They were heroes.
Unlike in other wars, Vietnam soldiers were not welcomed with cheers and waving flags. Insults were hurled at them, objects were thrown, and they were not treated like heroes who fought for their country. For the first time in American history, not only was there a negative and hostile attitude to war, but also to the soldiers who were fighting in the war. Not all who protested the war had negative reasons.Some believed that the war needed to end to save lives. House captures this attitude of some peace protesters through Nell. In the following conversation Nell is telling Stanton why she protested the war.
” ‘l did it for you….. L didn’t want my brother to come home in a body bag”‘ (House 38). Most protests began when over 500 American soldiers were being killed a week.
The American were tired of seeing their fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles and loved ones being killed in another country’s civil war. Sills House captures the peace protestor perfectly through the character of N ell.Not all protestors were out for the fame. Some truly wanted peace to ensure American lives. Fast forward forty years. In 201 1, Lifetime network premiered the reality show “Coming Home. ” The reality television show is focused on reunions that occur as United States military personnel return home from active duty in the Afghanistan and Iraq War (“Coming Home.
. “). The troops coming home from wars today are heroes. The troops today see crowds of people holding signs ND cheering as they come off the plane and see their families for the first time in months, sometimes even years.While driving on the road, one can always a yellow ribbons attached to the back of car saying “Support our Troops. ” Americans rally behind their soldiers. They are America’s own personal army of super heroes, fighting off the villains and threats to the great nation.
Today American society is fixated on the heartfelt coming home stories. There are organizations that arrange the spectacular coming home stories that can be seen on Lifetime?s “Coming Home” and all over the internet.Imagine no smiling faces, no banners, no words of encouragement, no thank you, and no support. This situation is not fathomable today. Although American citizens may not support the war, they support the young men and women risking their lives for civil liberties and freedom. If someone were to protest the war today and spit on the troops as they returned home. It would cause uproar.
Westbrook Baptist Church is one example of American’s protesting war. In October of 201 3, the infamous church took up protest at the funeral of deceased soldier Cody Patterson.They waved signs that said “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Pray for more dead soldiers. ” Americans rallied behind the Patterson family and condemned the Westbrook Baptist Church. No matter how one feels about war, today it is not okay to not show support for the troops. Unfortunately for Vietnam veterans, this was not the case. They were condemned for being killers and were treated without respect.
Sills House illuminates the differences between society during Stanton Book’s Vietnam and between the soldiers who are currently coming home from war.