The United States has changed a lot since its “Birth” in 1776. The United States changed for better or worse from The Great Depression, The Vietnam War, and The Attacks of 9/11. These life altering events formed America with tragedy, and destruction. Being the land of the free and the home of the brave. We rose up stronger and with hope. That’s what makes America great.
The Great Depression all started when the stock’s value started to plummet with no hope of recovery (Black Tuesday), people started to panic. Everyone who owned stock was trying to sell, but no one was willing to buy. This caused the stock market to suffer even more. The Stock Market Crash was only the beginning. Almost all the banks at this time put their clients’ money into the stock market.
When the stock market crashed, this made the banks go bankrupt. When news got around, anyone who had money in the bank was immediately withdrawing all the money they could. All the money being taken out caused any bank left to close permanently. The Great Depression had such a huge impact on the way America is today because it destroyed our economy.
We were forced to grow together as a country and rebuild. I think Dennis Hastert says it best “What makes America great is that we can come together during times of national tragedy”. The Great Depression also change how we run our banks. The government now has a program in place called FDIC Insurance. They will insure you for up to 250,000 per insured bank account. The fee is included in your normal taxes. This was put in place because of the Great Depression.
“The Vietnam War”
At the end of World War II Military and Political tensions between the USSR (Russia) and the US greatly increased. Communism in the USSR presented itself as a big threat to the US’s national security. Fearing that the Communism would spread to Vietnam and other countries, the US opposed the independence movement there.
The US first began by financially supporting France in the first Indochina War. The French defeat in Dein Bien Phu led to a peace conference in Geneva. This conference resulted in splitting the former French colony Indochina into three separate countries, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Vietnam was divided at the 17th parallel into the Communist North and anti-Communist South.
There was a plan for a nationwide election to unify North and South Vietnam. However, in 1956, South Vietnam backed by the US refused to hold the election. The US supported South Vietnam by sending 2,000 military advisors-which grew to over 16,000 by 1963. In 1960, the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) began to attack the South Vietnamese government.
After two attacks on U.S Navy vessels, the Gulf of Tokin Resolution was passed by the US Congress to give the US more powers to fight the war in Vietnam. The first US Combat troops were sent a year and a half after it was passed. In 1968 over 540,000 troops were in the countries of Vietnam. That same year the Viet Cong launched a massive surprise attack. This is now known as the “Tet Offensive”. This attack threatened the US’s position in South Vietnam. This had a huge impact on the outcome of the war.
President Richard Nixon proposed the “Vietnamization” project. It gave South Vietnam more responsibility in fighting the war while still receiving American aid. The US would also provide air and naval support if necessary. In 1972 the Easter Offensive made people think if the policy was effective. They were suggesting that South Vietnam could not wage a full scale war against North Vietnam without the US’s full support.
The 1970’s brought anti-war protests because Nixon tried to destroy the Viet Cong supply bases. In 1973, the war started to come to an end. The Paris Peace Accord was signed. This established a ceasefire and allowed the exchange of war prisoners. Also the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam. This officially ends the US’s and its ally’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The US did still contribute monetarily to South Korea until its official ending in 1975. South Korea lost, and Vietnam was unified as one communist country.
The Vietnam War not only changed how we fight, but it changed who we draft and length of the tour. In the Vietnam War the US learned a lot about jungle warfare. Towards the end the US got very proficient at it. Some historians believe that if the US would have kept the troops for four years instead of one the US would have gotten better quicker. They say that as soon as the troops got good, they were given the option to go home, which they did. The US also learned a lot about chemical warfare. The US learned how it affects the surrounding people. The US also learned how people in their own country felt about it. The war also changed our drafting system. The US in now on a volunteer basis. The Vietnam had many deaths on both sides and it has affected the world forever.
Early morning on December 7th, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise torpedo attack on the US Naval Base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The following day President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech to the American citizens. This speech was informing the people that this all happened during the midst of talks to keep peace. That same day America entered WWII. Pearl Harbor held a 22,000 acre naval base. Admiral Husband E. Kimmel of the Navy and Lt. General Walter C. Short of the Army were in command of the fleet and troops on the ground the day of the attack. The majority of the Pacific area’s military commands were headquartered there because of growing apprehensions regarding an aggressive Japanese presence.
Since the Japanese wanted to expand their territory and power, they had to search for natural resources. America was a likely target. America was a barrier between Java’s oil fields and the Japanese fleets. Also with America around, Japan could not conduct military strategies against the Netherlands and territories of the United Kingdom. Early on in the morning on December 7th, 1941, Japanese planes attacked about thirty-three American ships on orders of Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. America sustained a loss of one hundred seventy aircrafts that morning as well as eighteen ships. Three thousand seven hundred Americans lost their lives in one day but only very few Japanese died.
Pearl Harbor changed America because it brought us to join WWII. This decision had an impact on who won the war. Who knows, if the US didn’t join the war we could all be speaking German or Japanese right now. This also led to the use of the first and last detonation of a nuclear bomb in warfare. So there are definitely pros and cons to Pearl Harbor. The loss of all the men in the attack was horrible, but if that never happened Hitler might have won.
All in all, these events changed the course of history. The Great Depression taught us a lesson about how to handle stocks and money. It also gave us hope and brought us together as a country. The Vietnam War showed us how to fight jungle warfare. It also showed us the effects of chemical warfare (years after the Vietnam War). Pearl Harbor brought us to the very important decision to join WWII. For better or worse America is what it today because of these things.
Courtney from Study Moose
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