The Vietnam War Lesson Guide

Theme 4: Who Fought In the Vietnam War – All Sides

Theme Overview

The Vietnam War offers a powerful lens for examining issues of class, race, and ethnicity during an especially volatile time in American history. The armed services were filled by members of the largest generation in American history, but the military did not represent a true cross section of that generation, with disproportionate representation among troops from working class and poor backgrounds.

Essential questions:
  • Why did the motivations of American and Vietnamese soldiers change over the duration of the Vietnam War?
  • How do societies decide who is best suited to fight a war?
The lessons
  • Who Served and Who Didn’t— Students will view two video segments from The Vietnam War that focus on those Americans who served in the military in Vietnam and those who did not. In the first clip, four men describe their motivations for enlisting to go to war. In the second clip, students hear from Americans who chose not serve, how they avoided going to Vietnam, and why. Students will complete two graphic organizers to help them identify the motivations of, and see the similarities and differences among, those who served in Vietnam and those who didn’t.
    Time period: 1965-1968

Video Clips: