Let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that. Richard M. Nixon (b. 1913), U.S. Republican politician, president. Television broadcast, 3 Nov. 1969. Quoted in: Stephen Ambrose, Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician, vol. 2, ch. 14 (1989). In his Memoirs, Nixon commented: “Very few speeches actually influence the course of history. The November 3 speech was one of them.”
No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Richard M. Nixon (b. 1913), U.S. Republican politician, president. “No More Vietnams,” in New York Times (28 March 1985).
Above all, Vietnam was a war that asked everything of a few and nothing of most in America. Myra MacPherson , U.S. author. Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation, Epilogue (1984).
Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world’s policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world’s midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war. Jeane Kirkpatrick (b. 1926), U.S. public official. “Dictatorship and Double Standards,” in Commentary (New York, Nov. 1979).
There is the guilt all soldiers feel for having broken the taboo against killing, a guilt as old as war itself. Add to this the soldier’s sense of shame for having fought in actions that resulted, indirectly or directly, in the deaths of civilians. Then pile on top of that an attitude of social opprobrium, an attitude that made the fighting man feel personally morally responsible for the war, and you get your proverbial walking time bomb. Philip Caputo (b. 1941), U.S. author, journalist, Vietnam veteran. Playboy (Chicago, Jan. 1982).

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