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5 ways Vietnam War changed America

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Rudy deLeon: Vietnam War shook a generation of Americans

Americans facing similar challenges to those at end of Vietnam War, he says

Editor’s Note: Rudy deLeon is a senior fellow with the national security and international policy team at the Center for American Progress and a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense. The views expressed are his own. Watch “The Seventies” episode “Peace With Honor” at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on CNN.

CNN —  

When the 1970s began, I was a 17-year-old in my last year of high school.

The first half of the decade seemed like an extension of the 1960s: the fight for equal rights for all Americans continued; the first moves toward environmental protection were initiated along with Earth Day; the Beatles announced their break-up; and an oil embargo from the Middle East brought long lines at gas stations and soaring prices.

Throughout all this, the American people conducted a vigorous and polarizing debate on how to end the war in Vietnam.

By the end of the decade, America was trying to regain its standing and ideals and recover from a crisis of confidence following the conclusion of a long and traumatic war. It was a conflict that molded the country in many ways, large and small.

But five key legacies of the Vietnam War stand out as having shaped the nation – and indeed, continue to do so today:

Rudy deLeon
Rudy deLeon