|The turning point in the Vietnam War occurred
in February, 1968 during the Tet Offensive. Although the Americans
had secured a victory militarily, they lost psychologically. And
the tide turned even more at home. Demonstrations against U.S. involvement
in the Asian theater grew in size and number. College campuses began as
the site of most protests and then moved to the streets. Richard
Nixon, the Republican presidential candidate, promised to end the war.
His victory in November, 1968, led to the beginning of the end of the war.
That end came gradually. Nixon decided to withdraw U.S. troops from the war zone. After the secret bombing of the North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia in 1969, Nixon had 50,000 to 70,000 troops withdrawn at a time. Further, Nixon announced in January, 1972, that his head of the National Security Council, Henry Kissinger, had been involved in secret negotiations in Paris with a representative from North Vietnam, namely Le Duc Tho. Kissinger had made fifteen trips to Paris over a 2 ½ year period, starting in 1969.
The talks continued and in 1972, an agreement was reached. The next step was to gain approval of President Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam who had not been involved in the negotiations. Thieu added requirements to the settlement to end the war and North Vietnam rejected them. Nixon began saturation bombing of North Vietnam, trying to bring Hanoi to its knees. But it was Thieu of South Vietnam who gave in and agreed to the initial settlement. The final agreement was signed by Kissinger and Le Duc Tho on January 23, 1973, and the war came to a close on March 29, 1973. The military end was reached in America's longest war with over 56,000 U.S. soldiers killed. Thieu would remain in power.
With the U.S. effort ended, it did not
take long for the North Vietnamese to take the offensive once again.
Thieuís government did not have the military might to stave off the charge.
In April, 1975, North Vietnamese tanks rolled into Saigon, the South Vietnamese
capital. This time the end of fighting did come. The last American
Marines assigned to guard the U.S. Embassy, U.S. flag in hand, made the