In the weeks leading up to the arrival of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, elementary school students across the Santa Clarita Valley participated in an essay contest sponsored and judged by the Friendly Valley Veterans Club.
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In 500-700 words, fourth through sixteh grade students described why they believed the Vietnam War was important to America and what they had learned about it.
“They don’t teach anything about Vietnam in schools,” said Chuck Morris, who helped bring the wall to Santa Clarita. “I think it’s an important event in history… They (students) need to understand the sacrifices that were made, so that they can have the advantages that they have today.”
Now, first, second and third place winners and an honorable mention have been selected:
- First Place: Andrea Chhorr
- Second Place: Micaiah Nickels
- Third Place: Emily Blondin
- Honorable Mention: Kaitlyn Henry
Chhorr, Nickels and Blondin will receive scholarships for $1,000, $750 and $500 respectively.
Winners will be recognized during opening ceremonies at the wall, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, and the winning essays will be read aloud to visitors at the wall.
The winning essays are printed below. For more information about the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall and how to be a part, click here. If you are a winner and would like more information about how to collect your prize, contact KHTS AM-1220 at 661-298-1220.
“The Vietnam War,” by Andrea Chhorr, fourth grade, Cedarcreek Elementary School
I first heard about this essay when my dad showed it to me and asked me if I wanted to try. I said yes because if I won I could win money for art school. I would buy an I-Pad and a DVD player. At the beginning I didn’t know a lot about the Vietnam War but I did know I wanted to learn more about it. So I decided to read some books about the Vietnam War and I learned a lot. The first thing I learned was that democracy means equality of rights, opportunity, and treatment and that communism means other people telling others what to do. The second thing I learned was that the Vietnam War was important to us because the troops fought for democracy and we wanted to keep our freedom. Another is that it is important to help people even if it means putting yourself at risk. Finally I learned how we lost the Vietnam War but we still avoided communism. This was important to America because we don’t like when people make us do what they want us to do.
First I will tell you why it was important that the troops fought for democracy in the Vietnam War. America has a government called democracy that lets people vote and be free. In Vietnam the North was trying to make the South communist. When a country is communist then the people are told what to do and are not free. The United States liked being free and wanted to help South Vietnam be free too. To help South Vietnam America sent them money and troops. At first South Vietnam didn’t stand a chance but with America’s help they had hope.
Another reason that the Vietnam War is important to America is because the United States helped the people from Vietnam and it is important to help other people. A lot of Americans didn’t like that we were helping Vietnam because we were giving them our own money and our American soldiers were dying in the war. Even though some bad things were happening to the American people we knew that the Vietnamese needed us by their side so we helped them anyway. This taught me that it is always important to help others no matter what.
Finally I learned that the war was important because even though South Vietnam lost we still avoided communism. After 10 years in Vietnam more than 58,000 American soldiers had died and more than 153,000 had gotten really hurt. This is when America decided that it was time for them to leave. On April 30, 1975, the North finally took over the South but this was okay because the United States never became Communist.
In conclusion the Vietnam War was important to America because we helped South Vietnam, we lost a lot of soldiers, and the United States never became communist. Since I decided to do this essay I learned that it is always important to help others in need. In honor of all the American soldiers that lost their lives in Vietnam they have a special wall with their names on it. I think it’s good that we’re free and it makes me happy.
“Why was the Vietnam War Important to America,” by Micaiah Nickels, 11 years old
As we all know, the Vietnam War was the longest war and one of the bloodiest wars known to the United States. The war lasted ten years and 58,220 American lives were lost. Most people would ask, “Why did we even participate in the Vietnam War at all?” or “Why was the Vietnam War important to America?” Well, I will answer both of these questions. In the Vietnam War, we learned to not let the president have too much power, to make sure those who we are helping are on our side and to honor our soldiers.
Most people have bad feelings about the Vietnam War and President Johnson (the president near the beginning of the war). He went to war with good intentions. He went to free the people of South Vietnam from Communism. He thought that if Vietnam became Communist that most of Asia would follow, believing the “Domino Theory” that President Eisenhower labeled.
Despite our good intentions; it turned out that most of the people of South Vietnam turned against their government and us. We were not just fighting the North, but we were fighting the people of South Vietnam, too. But that wasn’t it. The war lost American public support, too. It was very disheartening for the American soldiers. The South Vietnamese people and the American people were both against the U.S. Soldiers. Finally, after trudging through this long war, President Nixon told the officials that he would pull out our troops if North Vietnam gave us back their American captives. The North came in and captured the city of Saigon in South Vietnam, and that ended this unsuccessful and discouraging war.
I think the Vietnam War was important to America because we learned a lot of lessons, including being careful about the wars that we get into. In this, we also learned to not let the President enter war without the help of Congress. In 1973, we passed a law saying that the President cannot go into war without getting approval from Congress within two days, called the War Powers Resolution. The War Powers Resolution is intended to contain our president’s power. We also learned “to win the hearts of the people and not just go in and suppress them,” said Harold Bryan when I interviewed my Grandfather. We ran in and tried to help them when they didn’t even want our help. We probably would have won the war if we had the people of South Vietnam’s support…like in the Korean War. I hope we have learned this lesson.
After 10 years of fighting in Vietnam, our soldiers returned to America expecting a great applause. But instead they were booed and treated horribly. Of those men, many them were forced to join the war if they liked it or not because of the mandatory draft. So, I hope that wehave learned to honor our soldiers no matter what the circumstance. Even if we don’t agree with the war, our soldiers should be honored for their heroism and sacrifice…no matter if we win or loose.
And to this day, many people do not know why the Vietnam War started…not even my Great Uncle who was, in the Navy and went to Vietnam. Through the Vietnam War we learned a lot of valuable lessons. I hope that this essay will inform everyone and expose the myths that the Vietnam War was a waist and worthless. I want everyone to know why the Vietnam War was important to America, too. If we’ve learned these lessons, this will not happen again.
“The Importance of the Vietnam War to America,” by Emily Blondin, sixth grade
“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now.” -Richard M. Nixon, 1985. During the period of the Vietnam War, and still today, many Americans didn’t think that they should have been in Vietnam. However, it is important to look back on the time of the Vietnam War to remember how it shaped and changed our country. As a result of Vietnam, American citizens rebelled against the government, faced the tragedy of war through their television sets, and learned the importance of honoring their soldiers.
During the Vietnam War, American people started second guessing their government. One thing that made the people rebellious was that young men could be drafted at the age of eighteen to fight and die for their country, but they couldn’t vote until the age of twenty-one. This resulted in many Americans questioning not only their government, but all authority in general. This attitude was displayed at protests where men burned their draft cards and women burned their bras. This period was important to America because it eventually resulted in an amendment to the Constitution that lowered the voting age to eighteen years.
The television played an important role in the Vietnam War because it greatly influenced the minds of Americans. The influence of T.V slowly turned Americans against the war. Oftentimes, the T.V reporters portrayed the American soldiers as the enemy. In 1966, ninety-three percent of Americans had televisions. Americans turned to the T.V to receive information about the war. This was the first time Americans could see dead bodies, women and children being injured, and fires burning entire villages. Americans really started to see the gruesomeness and tragedy of the war. In 1975, Marshall McLuhan said, “Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America. not on the battle fields of Vietnam.” The Vietnam War was often misreported by television reporters and by the newspapers by only giving one side of the story. By the late sixties, many Americans were against the war, which was encouraged by what they saw on T.V.
By the end of the war, a lot of Americans were against both the war and the soldiers. When the soldiers came home from the Vietnam War, they were treated terribly. People threw eggs on them and cursed them; My great grandmother had a brother who returned home from the Vietnam War. She said that people put hate signs in his yard. The American people learned a valuable lesson from Vietnam. Even though some may disagree with today’s war on terror, Americans don’t treat their soldiers the way that they did in Vietnam. Many soldiers didn’t choose to go to Vietnam. The American government drafted hundreds of thousands of young men to fight in the war. Instead of the soldiers coming home to a friendly, supportive America, they came home to an America that did not receive them. As the war came to an end, the soldiers did not receive the same support they had received in past wars.
In conclusion, the Vietnam War is important to America because it changed Americans’ views on government, war, and soldier support. After the Vietnam War, many Americans didn’t trust their government, and its decisions. It changed their views on war, too. This was the first war that America lost. The war also changed their actions toward soldiers. Since the Vietnam War, Americans have leamed that it’s important to remember the sacrifices of their soldiers. One anonymous quote says, “The greatest cruelty is being forgotten.” As America goes forward, may she always take time to remember the sacrifice of her people.
“Why was the Vietnam War Important to America?” by Kaitlyn Henry
During the Vietnam War that lasted 10 years, the Soviet Union and China spent tons of money to help the communist North Vietnam defeat South Vietnam and the American soldiers. As the Soviet Union helped North Vietnam, it later collapsed because they spent too much money. This resulted in some of Europe’s countries to become free. This was a good thing for America and the World. The Berlin Wall also came down at the time and Germany was no longer divided. People can actually see a piece of the Berlin Wall at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
Since Americans had spent so many years in South Vietnam, years after the war, the Vietnamese people learned about doing business in the world. My grandfather just recently bought a desk made in Vietnam. Because of this Vietnamese people have jobs like Americans have.
If it weren’t for America to help stop communism from spreading to South Vietnam, my cousins wouldn’t be alive today. The story is that in approximately 1964, North Vietnam wanted to take over South Vietnam. Both are called Vietnam today. North Vietnam was the communist part of Vietnam and they fought really hard for South Vietnam to be communist as well.
My Aunt Nikki was born and lived in Saigon, South Vietnam at the time. Her parents knew that the communists had taken over South Vietnam, but they wanted freedom for their kids. In 1978 they sent my Aunt Nikki and her three siblings with her on a wooden boat with about 50 other passengers. They ended up in Malaysia, and lived there for about six months.
While in Malaysia, they had no idea where they were going to end up, but fortunately a treaty allowed Nikki and her sister and brothers to go to the United States. They took another boat to Southern California. They wouldn’t have known about America unless the American soldiers fought for freedom in South Vietnam against North Vietnam. My aunt grew up and married my Uncle Mike, and both my cousins, Ethan and Jake, were born. They are my age and we are good friends and hang out a lot.
The Vietnam War lasted approximately 10 years and my grandfather, Bill Reynolds, is a Vietnam Veteran. He went into the U.S Army when he was only 19 years old. He was an infantry soldier and he fought in the Vietnam War and he received many awards. When he got wounded he was awarded the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart is the award you get when a soldier gets wounded by the enemy. He also earned the Bronze Star. The Bronze Star was awarded when Lt. Jack Benedick requested the 12 men that survived out of 40 soldiers get awarded the Bronze Star. Because the request was lost, the Congressman, Buck McKeon, approved and awarded my grandfather and another soldier who lives in Newhall the Bronze Star. During the War when American soldiers and my Grandpa returned back home, they were treated very badly because many American people blamed the War on the soldiers. They wanted America out of South Vietnam and they spit, yelled bad things and threw things at the Veterans. Years later, the American people thought that it was wrong to be angry at the soldiers and today, Americans now celebrate and honor people who serve our country, so this turned out to be a good thing for America. I am very proud of my grandfather for serving our country. Grandpa is my hero and I love him.
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Source: Santa Clarita News