The Living Room War: Television & Vietnam

 < PALEYEDUCATION : Onsite Classes

Grades 10–12

Class Description

From 1965 to 1975, television played an unprecedented role in shaping American perceptions of the Vietnam War. New technology and unlimited access to the battlefields of Southeast Asia invested field reporters with the ability to broadcast what became known as "bang-bang" coverage. The carnage of the war and the consequences for American morale, both on the battlefield and at home, led to deep divisions in how Americans viewed the role of government, the military, social change, and war itself. Students will analyze documentaries, news, and fictional programming that depict the Vietnam War period from multiple perspectives.

On-site class length is two hours; distance learning class is offered in two one-hour segments.


As a group, provide definitions for the following words and concepts, which will be referenced during the class.

AMNESTY: The act of an authority (such as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals

BOOBY TRAP: In warfare, a device such as a land mine or grenade placed in a noncombat area meant to harm soldiers

CAPITALISM: An economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and controlled and which is characterized by competition and the profit motive

COMMUNISM: A theory advocating elimination of private property; a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed; a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR: A person who is granted official, legal exemption from serving in the military on the basis of moral or religious grounds

DMZ (DEMILITARIZED ZONE): In military terms, a demilitarized zone is an area, usually the frontier or boundary between two or more groups, where military activity is not permitted, usually by treaty or other agreement

DRAFT: Compulsory military service

DRAFTEE: Person selected from the eligible general population to fight a war

DRAFT-DODGER: Someone who illegally evades the draft, often by leaving the country

INTERMINGLED AREAS: Areas where it was impossible to tell who was a Vietcong sympathizer and who was a South Vietnamese loyalist

GRUNTS: Foot soldiers/recruits

KIA, WIA, MIA: Killed in action, wounded in action, missing in action

LIFERS: Career military men, officers

LOTTERY: The process that determines the order of selection in the military draft, usually correlated by birthday

SELECTIVE SERVICE: A system under which men are called up for military service

STRATEGIC HAMLETS: Transplanted villages of South Vietnamese supposedly free of Vietcong influence, guarded by Marines who lived in the villages

TET OFFENSIVE: The 1968 offensive by the Vietcong to take over South Vietnam and expel the Americans

VC, VICTOR CHARLIE, or VIETCONG: Three names for the North Vietnamese soldiers/guerrillas

Pre-Visit and Post-Visit Information

This section makes use of Acrobat Reader software. To see the content we've created, you need the Acrobat plug-in for your Web Browser. Download the Acrobat Reader now.
alt Pre-Visit Activity | Post-Visit Activity


For more information, visit this website: