South Vietnamese government television channels showed horrifying scenes of grieving families and unidentified corpses that had been hastily buried. Some were presumed to be the intellectuals and teachers, government cadres, civil servants and administrators who had gone missing during the communist occupation. Physical evidence showed that many of them had been tied, blindfolded and shot point-blank, or buried alive. No one knows exactly how many people were killed; several accounts put it at more than 3,, most of them civilians.
This massacre is deeply embedded in Western accounts of the battle for Hue but little-discussed in Vietnam. And yet, in what was, for the Vietnamese people, a civil war, the fratricidal nature of this event could not have been more stark.
I loved running back and forth in the corridors, on the terrace or in the many gardens. On the first night of the Lunar New Year, January 30, we heard what we thought were firecrackers. The sound was actually gunfire. Bullets were flying in every direction. Flares occasionally lit the sky, but the grounds around our house were dark. We had no way of seeing that communist troops had surrounded us. They herded about a hundred of us, mostly women and children, into a neighboring basement.
In the dark, my mother tried to keep my two sisters and me quiet. We were dazed and afraid. Until that night, the war had been something that happened in the forests and mountains or in villages far away. It was two days before we were allowed to go back into the guesthouse. Mattresses and clothes littered the rooms, and the furniture had been thrown all over.
Upstairs, my father was sitting on the floor with a number of other men. We huddled next to him, but we were so afraid we were unable to speak. After just a few minutes, soldiers told us to leave. We left empty-handed and returned to our basement prison with no idea of what was in store. Two nights later, my mother motioned me toward the one tiny window in the basement. I climbed on the bed and strained to look out. The soldiers had lined up a row of men and tied their elbows behind their backs.
After a while, they marched the men away. I saw my father among them. A week later, the communist soldiers withdrew from the government house. The campus had been turned into a refugee center and makeshift hospital. From the sixth floor, I could see the fighting across the river. I also saw people with horrendous wounds brought into the various floors below. Most days we sat dazed on a straw mat while the adults gathered in corners for whispered conversations.
After weeks of house-to-house fighting, the soldiers recaptured the Citadel, the heart of the old imperial city, on February When we managed to get back to Da Nang, our house was full of relatives who had also fled from Hue. We had no news about my father, and no way of finding any. For the first year, we did not tell my grandfather that my father had been taken—we were afraid he would die of a heart attack. Months later, news came about the mass graves.
My mother went to Hue to look for my father, but the sight of the decaying and maimed corpses horrified her. She never went back. In Nguyen Qui Duc was nine years old, his father was a high-ranking civil servant in the South Vietnamese government, and his mother was a school principal. I grew up not quite an orphan: While other families buried their dead, set up an altar and had some kind of closure, ours had this open secret.
In the months and then the years following the Tet Offensive, we were terrorized by the thought that a communist victory anywhere in the south would mean more massacres, more people buried alive.
That fear shaped my fate: As communist forces closed in on Saigon in , my uncles arranged for me to go to the United States. One of those exchanged prisoners managed to smuggle out a letter to my mother.
She set out to visit him, and discovered that he had been reduced to a thin old man. But his spirits seemed high. Four years later, the communist government allowed him and my mother to emigrate to the United States. When I met my parents at the airport in San Francisco, he was astonishingly healthy and sane. She was less sure of herself than I had remembered. We spent many months rediscovering each other, but we moved backward in time, taking the most recent years first.
We never talked of ; it was too overwhelming. He wrote about his prison years and published a book of poems he had composed in captivity—and kept in his memory until he left the country.
He used one phrase as a preface: I suffer, therefore I am. He read the books and saw the documentaries about the Tet Offensive, but he said no more about it until he died, in Despite all that history, I began to consider moving back to Vietnam.
It was still my country, after all, and Vietnamese traditionally have a strong sense of place. Some of them have lived and heard enough of it, and many had an equally traumatic time of it. Plus, Vietnam is a youthful country—the median age is 30 years. The majority of the people were born after the war, and long after Those are, once again, banned. My friend Tran Anh Quan, an artist in his 40s who is rather critical of the government, often tells me I am obsessed with the past. Then comes a moment like the time a real estate developer approached me with his business plan for Hue.
Within five minutes, and four dead marines, they were in control. Forrest The attack stunned US President Lyndon Johnson and proved to be a catalyst in the attitudes of the American people towards the war. For the first time in a major war, television played a crucial role. Splashed across the screens of fifty million Americans.
Americans at home saw the carnage wrought by the offensive. The fourteen commandos who had attacked the main Saigon radio station were trapped inside for eighteen hours before blowing up the entire building with themselves inside.
There were burnt out tanks and up-turned automobiles still smoldering. Bodies lay everywhere, most of them civilians. The smoke and stench blended, like in some kind of horror movie — except that it lacked weird music. You felt that something could happen at any minute, that they would jump out and start shooting from every side. Karnow General Westmoreland, supreme commander of US forces, perceived incorrectly that the Tet offensive paralleled the Battle of the Bulge in World War II where the Germans staged a desperate bid to go for broke before meeting a rapid and inevitable defeat.
Ours is always a synthesis, simultaneously military, political and diplomatic — which is why quite clearly, the Tet offensive had multiple objectives.
The embassy attack was aimed at showing up the vulnerability of the American forces. However this only occurred on a sporadic basis. Maclear One of the most awesome battles in the offensive took place in Khe Sahn. He also likened it to the battle of Dienbienphu, when the North Vietnamese attacked the French in a bid to enhance their bargaining power at the then Geneva peace conference. Maclear The analogy with Dienbienphu was preposterous; the US was in a far stronger position than the French were in The Vietcong suffered huge losses, as many as 10, dead, while only US marines were killed.
Maclear Westmoreland and most of the US high command were convinced that the Vietcong were desperately trying to re-enact Dienbienphu. But it was actually a brilliant piece of strategy to draw the Americans away from the big population centers and leave them open to assault. Forrest Not only did Khe Sahn catch the Americans off guard, but also by the rapidity and surprise of the whole offensive itself. Years later a West Point textbook describe the US intelligence failure to see what was happening on a par with Pearl Harbor.
A CIA report concluded: Forrest Tet was the final nail in the coffin for the administration of Lyndon Johnson. In , when he came to power in the wake of the assassination of John F. His credibility was gone. Olson Then came the humiliation of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, where he polled only votes more than Eugene McCarthy, an unknown standing on an anti-war ticket. This was unprecedented for an incumbent President, who would usually go for re-election unhindered.
The result electrified the nation and intensified the anti-war protest. However, troop levels remained at about , and the war would drag on for another five years. Before the Tet, the American people were in favor of the war. There were only a few anti-war walks, but for the most part, everyone was pro war. The United States has been winning nine out of ten battles up until On January 30, the United States would be torn apart. Instead of peaceful anti-war walks, there was rioting.
Almost all favor was against the war.
The Tet Offensive - The Tet Offensive was a series of battles which took place during the Vietnam War. It was a major offensive by the North Vietnamese Army, and the Viet Cong, beginning on the night of January , of , which was the Chinese New year.
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The Johnson administration employed a “policy of minimum candor” in its dealings with the media. Military information officers sought to manage media coverage by emphasizing stories that portrayed progress in the war. Over time, this policy damaged the public trust in official pronouncements. We will write a custom essay sample on Tet Offensive or any [ ]. The Tet Offensive was a series of battles which took place during the Vietnam War. It was a major offensive by the North Vietnamese Army, and the Viet Cong, beginning on the night of January , of , which was the Chinese New year. The objective of the Tet Offensive was to take the.
Free Essay: The Tet Offensive The Tet Offensive was a major assault by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong against South Vietnam and the U.S. forces situated. The Tet Offensive Vietnam was not only a war to the American people it was a massacre. The Tet Offensive was a Vietnamese lunar holiday, which celebrated the year of the monkey, which was usually a very peaceful and calm period but not at this time.