of human life and the utter futility of the war--which the government attempted to conceal--it galvanized opposition that eventually ended America's involvement in a tragic, protracted, and failed effort to stop the spread of communism. The movement also made political leaders, then and since, more sensitive to sending American troops abroad when the military objectives are not clearly defined.
America's commitment to make the world safe for democracy by intervening in Vietnam's internal affairs and the antiwar movement's determination to force withdrawal brought the country to the brink of revolution. The ideological clash traumatized the nation. At the very least, the conflict led Lyndon Johnson to decide not to run for reelection and forced policymakers to focus on withdrawal. U.S. involvement in Vietnam lasted longer than World War II and the undeclared war in Korea combined. Over a fourteen- year period from 1962, when President John F. Kennedy committed noncombat personnel, to the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Vietnam War cost nearly 60,000 fatalities, more than 300,000 wounded, and $191 billion. Countless lives of veterans and family members were emotionally shattered. Never before had America sacrificed so much for so little.
Whether they were trying to destroy America or remake it, those in the antiwar movement were intoxicated by the belief in limitless possibility during an age of idealism. Regardless of its failures or successes, however, a generation would be forever haunted by the grim legacy of Vietnam.
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Publication information: Book title: The 1960s Cultural Revolution. Contributors: John C. McWilliams - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 61.
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