The Tet Offensive

Powerful Essays
The Vietnam War was a long battle fought between the Northern Vietnamese, with the Viet Cong, and South Vietnam with its ally, the United States, during the years of 1955 to 1975. The Viet Cong was a guerrilla force fighting for the North but were stationed across South Vietnam and could not be differentiated from any other Vietnamese citizens. The president of the United States at the beginning of U.S. involvement with the war was Lyndon B. Johnson, and ended with Richard Nixon in office. On Tet, a Vietnamese celebration of the lunar new year, in 1968, over 100 cities and towns were attacked in South Vietnam by the communist Northern Vietnamese. The attack was one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War and was coordinated by…show more content…
The unexpected Northern Vietnamese attack was used as leverage against the U.S. and as seen from the American’s point of view, it was the definite turning point of the Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive was seen as a symbolic attack to the American public and the purpose of the attack was for the North Vietnamese to send a message to America. The Viet Cong wanted to gain advantages in negotiations to pull ahead in the Vietnam War for the victory (Robbins). Americans saw the attack as a message from the enemies and once they saw that the government was not doing anything to help, doubt began to spread and the American public soon lost trust in the government. Although the presidents tried anything in their hopes to assure the country that the attack was nothing to be worried about, the Tet Offensive already proved that there was nothing able to do to make the war winnable. "Only the frantic activity of Vietnamese politicians indicates that the war has moved into a new phase since President Johnson 's peace moves. 'For the first time, ' one of Vietnam 's highest officials told me when I returned to Saigon from Khe Sanh, 'the government is thinking seriously about the possibility of an American pullout’” (Grant). As an American reporter of the Vietnam War, Grant was faced with statements made by the opposing side about the war ending with the victory in Vietnam 's hands. This was an example of the American citizen realizing how the war was soon not winnable and the deaths of…show more content…
The Tet Offensive exposed how weak and unprepared the American forces in Vietnam were, as the attack completely tore apart any hope of a victory against the Communists. On March 25, 1968, two months after Tet, a Harris poll showed that 60 percent of Americans regarded the Tet Offensive as a defeat for U.S. objectives in Vietnam (North). Already, Americans knew that the war was not going to be won so the efforts in trying to continue the war were greatly opposed. Over half the Americans at the time believed that the Tet Offensive was a defeat even though many politicians argued that it was a victory for the United States. The public had no hope in the government and victory in the war after the attack. "Tet has always been a very mixed bag for me. Heady triumph and indelible pain, mingled together and impossible to separate. On the one hand it was when I shot that memorable picture that opened up a whole new world to me. But it 's also when a good friend became 20 years old forever" (Hirst). The Tet Offensive was a very scarring but impactful event in many American 's lives, including Don Hirst. To him, it was a memory that he preferred not to look back on; but Hirst 's experience was one of many out of all the people living throughout that time period. His photography career incepted from a single photo taken at the event of the Tet Offensive.
Overall, the Tet Offensive left a negative impact on not just the Vietnam War, but also America as a whole. It caused
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