Project Director

Eckelmann Berghel, Susan

Department Examiner

Samuel, Anne Tracy; Kuby, William


Dept. of History


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


During the 1960s and 1970s, youth activism and culture shaped American society. Pre- and college-age youth participated in the civil rights movement, engaged in politics to improve their education and equality, and called for a true democracy in American culture. The youth were passionately standing up for what they believed in, shaping the mold of America’s future. One of the most remembered youth protests of the 1970s was the antiwar movements. What began as peaceful demonstrations in 1964, quickly turned into draft card burnings, antiwar music recordings, and even went as far as torching ROTC buildings. The Kent State shooting and Woodstock define the American collective memory of the Vietnam War and antiwar movements. The youth, for the first time, were not accepting traditional norms of American society. They organized protests that inspired older generation’s harsh criticism. Students demanded an end to the war, and a political agenda that reflected true equality and democracy. Growing violence and tensions at home resonated among soldiers in Vietnam who started to question military involvement abroad because of increasing domestic disputes and a prolonged war. Many soldiers joined the antiwar movement by producing underground newspapers and holding strategic meetings in coffeehouses. Letters from soldiers abroad often described confusion and guilt about their military service. Other soldiers expressed feelings of betrayal by their own country. They asserted that soldiers deserved more support since they were dying for the idea of freedom and doing their duty as Americans. Divisions at home corresponded with growing tensions in the armed forces. What caused soldiers’ disillusionment? How did antiwar movements shape soldiers’ perceptions abroad? How might the fiery protests that targeted the U.S. Armed Forces have affected soldiers’ morale in Vietnam? Did the protests affect the outcome of the war? There is no question that the American public influenced political and military decision making, but this paper will examine how antiwar movements uniquely affected soldiers on the front lines. During WWII, many Americans supported war efforts; soldiers emerged as heroes receiving economic benefits with the GI Bill. During the Vietnam War, however, growing public opposition against the war far outnumbered its supporters; soldiers became a target of war protestors. This honors thesis argues that antiwar movements and failing political leadership shaped the general morale among soldiers and outcome of the Vietnam War.


I extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Susan Eckelmann Berghel for the many hours of editing, reading, and simply being a loyal supporter. Her commitment to my success will always be a warm memory in my experience of undergraduate research. I would also like to thank Dr. Anne Tracy Samuel and Dr. William Kuby for their insightful and encouraging assistance throughout my thesis development. Lastly, my parents, Robert and Darcy Fox, have been tremendous influences on my focus and motivation. I will forever by grateful for the many supporters in my endeavors.


B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.




Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Psychological aspects


Vietnam War; Military; Political leaders; Antiwar Movement; Media; Morale



Document Type



59 leaves







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