TIME CAPSULE 1973 — After many years of military intervention in the Vietnam War,  protesters across the nation finally got what they wanted. Their troops came home.

When President Nixon took office in January, 1969, he vowed to listen to what the people wanted and end the war in Vietnam. As the U.S. has seen in its own history, a nation which is divided can be extremely hard to reconcile. It would be another four years before concrete, governmental action would bring change to the front.

March 29, 1973, is known as the date combat units were withdrawn from Vietnam, it wasn’t until April 30, 1975 that all U.S. troops returned home. . The clear and definite end to the war came about through the signing of the Paris Peace Accords (PPA), according to “The Vietnam War,” a website dedicated to providing facts, questions and timelines related to the conflict in Vietnam. Although the ultimate goal was peace, the road to signing the PPA was paved with death and destruction which were heavily protested in the U.S., such as a violent attempt to end the war, known as the Tet offensive in 1968.

The Office of the Historian states that the Tet Offensive was carried out by the North Vietnamese who bombed major cities and U.S. outposts in South Vietnam in an attempt to either drive back forces or end the war altogether. After much fighting the U.S. and South Vietnamese troops were able to drive back the north forces, but not without sustaining many losses on both sides.

News of these deaths, along with information leaked in the Pentagon Papers about the U.S.’s plan to handle the aggression in Vietnam, sparked a call for peace.

In last week’s edition of The Equinox, there was an article about the history of the teach-in as a form of peaceful protest in the Time Capsule section. In that article, it is learned that the teach-in, a practice used at Keene State College in recent years, began as a way for professors and students in higher education to take a stand on the war in Vietnam in a peaceful way. Instead of regular classes, students were free to attend a multitude of peaceful rallies and workshops about what was happening overseas and what to do about it.

The main piece of legislation that brought about the effect many people were hoping for was the PPA, which was signed in January, 1973. Although a decision was finally met, negotiations of peace had begun in Paris several years earlier. According to “The Vietnam War,” multiple stalemates prevented the discussions from really getting anywhere, especially when each faction would employ a (temporarily) successful military strategy and believe that time was on their side and they just had to wait-out the other groups. Nixon, growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of agreement, ordered his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to begin holding separate, secret meetings with a member of the North Vietnamese politburo Le Duc Tho in August 1969. After a few more years of talking, Kissinger and Tho revealed their draft of the PPA in October, 1972. Although South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu was extremely upset that negotiations of peace had been happening without his involvement, he eventually agreed to the terms after Nixon applied some pressure, pledging U.S. assistance should North Vietnam attempt to break the treaty.

According to “The Vietnam War,” an agreement was met between several military factions: the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam (PRG), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and the United States. The main agreements of the treaty were: “An in-place ceasefire between North and South Vietnamese forces began at 8:00 on January 28, 1973. When the ceasefire was in effect, U.S.  troops had sixty days to withdraw all of their forces. Simultaneously, both side had to release all their war prisoners. South Vietnam and PRG would negotiate a political settlement which would allow South Vietnamese people to decide their own political future. Reunification of Vietnam was to be ‘carried out step by step through peaceful means.’”

Although the PPA was not followed exactly, and there were violations on both sides, it was largely effective in ending the war in Vietnam. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were celebrated around the world for their pivotal part in ending the war. They were actually both awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts, but neither man chose to accept it.

 

Abbygail Vasas can be contacted at avasas@kscequinox.com

Clarification – On March 29, 2018 an article published in The Equinox titled, “The Vietnam War comes to an end,” there were two areas that required additional information.

The first is the actual date of the event. While March 29, 1973 is known as the date combat units were withdrawn from Vietnam, it wasn’t until April 30, 1975 that all U.S. troops returned home.

The second is regarding the Tet Offensive – the article did not fully explain what exactly the operation was. The Office of the Historian states that the Tet Offensive was carried out by the North Vietnamese who bombed major cities and U.S. outposts in South Vietnam in an attempt to either drive back forces or end the war altogether. After much fighting the U.S. and South Vietnamese troops were able to drive back the north forces, but not without sustaining many losses on both sides.