A Gallup Poll issued in February 1965 revealed that 64% of Americans believed that if the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, communism would spread.78
A Gallup Poll issued in December 1969 revealed that 91% of all Americans had heard or read about the U.S. troops who raped, mutilated, and murdered Vietnamese villagers in My Lai. Two years later, more than half of all Americans believed that the massacre was not an isolated incident but a common one.79
Former Army Lieutenant William Calley, the man sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 22 people in the 1968 My Lai massacre, was paroled just three and a half years after his conviction.80
"Viet Cong," the common term used to describe the guerilla forces in South Vietnam that fought against the Saigon government, was not a label given to the group by its allies in the North. Ngo Dinh Diem, the president of South Vietnam and the Viet Cong's primary target until 1963, coined the name "viet-cong"—a derogatory Vietnamese word meaning "commie."81
The Vietnamese monks who retrieved the body of Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist priest who immolated himself to protest the Diem regime in South Vietnam, discovered something astounding; the priest's heart remained intact, seemingly untouched by the flames that had engulfed the rest of his body. His heart is preserved and still honored today as a relic of an esteemed martyr, a man believed to be a bodhisattva—an "enlightened one."82
In the roughly fifteen years of American military action in Vietnam, no official declaration of war was ever made by Congress or sought by any of the four presidents that served during the conflict.
Contrary to common belief, college students were not more likely to protest the war than those without a college education. In 1966, a survey conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that only 26% of those with a college education favored American withdrawal from Vietnam—as opposed to 41% of those with only an eighth-grade education.83
On 25 May 1970, Newsweek magazine published a poll that asked who was primarily responsible for the student deaths during protests at Kent State University. Eleven percent said that the National Guard was to blame; 58% said the students were at fault.84