With the exception of the Civil War no event in American history divided the nation as much as did the prolonged bloody conflict in Vietnam. American combat involvement was primarily between the assassination of John Kennedy and the Watergate Scandal, and the American public’s distrust of its leaders grew exponentially as it learned of the false information it was being provided over the course of the war. America first became ensnared in Vietnam during the administration of Harry Truman, providing financial support to the French, a fact not made public until decades later. Military advisers from the United States were dispatched by Eisenhower, expanded under Kennedy, and combat troops landed under Johnson.
It was, until the United States became mired in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, though it was never a declared war. It was fought under executive authority given the President through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, itself a document based on falsehood. More bomb and artillery tonnage was poured into Vietnam than was on all Axis powers of World War II combined, including the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Yet many Americans still believe that the troops in Vietnam weren’t allowed to fight the war as the military wanted, and that the politicians in Washington restrained them. That is one of the many myths of American involvement in Vietnam.