Why Didn’t I Learn About Vietnam?
Did you learn about the Vietnam war in history class in middle or high school? Did you learn about the Watergate Scandal? Maybe if we did, our generation would care more about the goings on in today’s government and better understand the importance of participation.
There have been many comparisons drawn between the situation in Iraq and the situation in Vietnam a generation ago. These comparisons speak to the similarities in the shady nature in which the conflicts were handled by the US government, the way that those that did not blindly support the war were ridiculed and negatively typecasted as weak pacifists, how so many principled politicians sat by idly as thousands of soldiers were killed in another country’s civil war, and the idea of the domino theory that once “applied” to communism now “applies” to terrorism.
One thing that characterized the US during the Vietnam War was the effectiveness of protests. There have been protests to the conflict in Iraq since before it began, and the momentum that they are building is reminiscent of those that took place in the 1960s and 70s against Vietnam. These public citizen actions were a catalyst for the Congressional action that ultimately ended the war. Prayerfully, the same will be said about Iraq protests in the very near future.
So why don’t curriculum designers teach students about their country’s activist past? Why don’t standardized tests include reading comprehension sections comprised of pieces describing Vietnam, a war that was taking place only 3 decades ago? It’s hard to believe that this is not on purpose.
What’s the solution?
Contemporary study should cover contemporary events. If you are a parent, why not lobby your school board/district to have unit(s) on Vietnam added? At least ask the question. If it can be done over the useless Intelligent Design debate, it surely can be done over a subject in which a student’s knowledge can allow them to immediately take action in the world today. If you are a student, write a compare-contrast paper on America during Vietnam and America during today’s Iraq conflict. Doing so will educate yourself, your peers, and your instructors. If you are just a concerned citizen, read up on Vietnam.
It’s important to answer questions, especially ones that are never asked.