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Caption: Painted by Navy combat artist James Scott, this watercolor entitled “Welcome to Sunny Saigon” focuses on a young Sailor, dressed in his blues, arriving in Vietnam for the first time. “Welcome to Sunny Saigon” also welcomes visitors into the Vietnam exhibit at HRNM. (On loan from Navy Art Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command)


Why Did the U.S. Go to War in Vietnam? 

America’s war in Southeast Asia was just one part of the Cold War with the Soviet Union that lasted from 1945 until 1991. After World War II, the Soviet Union dominated Eastern Europe and set up Communist governments in these countries as “satellite states.” Many Americans saw Communism as opposed to the democratic ideals they upheld. When the Communist Revolution took root in China, American officials feared it spreading in Asia. The United States supported France when Vietnam’s nationalist movement, led by Communist Ho Chi Minh, sought independence from French colonial rule. After the Vietnamese defeated French forces in 1954, the U.S. became increasingly involved in supporting the nonCommunist South Vietnamese government’s military resistance to the Communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam based in the North. American credibility as a global superpower was at stake.

Published: Wed Aug 18 14:41:44 EDT 2021