Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam Memorial in New York City, also known as the Vietnam Veterans Plaza was built in 1971. The site was formerly named Jeanette Park, in honour of The Jaenette, i.e. the flagship of an ill-fated Arctic expedition (1879-1881). 

In 1982 this site was chosen to house the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Plaza and Memorial currently stand as the city's testimonial to the young men and women who served during the Vietnam War. 

For those who do not know, the Vietnam war stemmed from the USA's efforts to contain the spread of communism in South-East Asia. By 1954, the end of French colonial rule left Vietnam divided into a communist North and pro-West South. The United States hence supported South Vietnam with military advisers and later (1960s) with ground troops. By 1969, more than half a million Americans were serving in that area. 

President Richard M. Nixon began U.S. troops withdrawals but also widened the conflict with campaigns into Cambodia and Laos. Peace talks commenced in 1969 and ended in 1973. American forces left and prisoners of war were repatriated. 2 years later, the South fell to the communists. 

2.9 million Americans had served in Vietnam; 58.000 were killed and 300.000 were wounded. It is believed that 3 million Vietnamese across both sides perished during this conflict. 

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