Why did US citizens change their opinion on the Vietnam War as it progressed?

Essay by KeirHigh School, 12th grade February 2006

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The opinion of the citizens of the United States began to change as time passed and incidents took place. The government misled the people, the people became dissatisfied with the current situation and families were torn apart. As American got sucked deeper into the war, Americans wanted to get out more badly. The growth of anti-war movements was caused by a mixture of different factors.

The decline of support for the Vietnam War mainly started in 1968. Although antiwar movements in the United States had been occurring before, the Tet Offensive opened the eyes of countless people. General Westmoreland had assured the public that the war was going to come to a swift end soon, that there was "light at the end of the tunnel". But on January 30th 1968, the National Liberation Front and the People's Army of Vietnam attacked various major cities in South Vietnam including Saigon and the US embassy there.

The goal of the Tet Offensive was to ignite and encourage the people of South Vietnam to overthrow their government and to put pressure on the US to withdraw their troops. Even though the Tet Offensive was a brutal military defeat for the communists, over half of their troops were killed; there were weighty effects on the reliability of the government. Americans were shocked. They now realized that if even the American Embassy wasn't a safe place to be, nowhere in South Vietnam was. Citizens of American began to question if the government knew what they were doing and if the Vietnam War was a war that could be won.

As the United States sank deeper into the war, the government started using methods of warfare that concerned citizens. The My Lai Massacre was the result of soldiers frustrated at their inability to complete their search...