From Pittsburgh to Vietnam


In 1945, as the United States and its allies celebrated an end to World War II, many developing nations were still seeking independence from European, Asian, and American colonial domination. One of the countries in dispute in southeast was Vietnam, which became a key battleground in the Cold War. Few Americans had heard of Vietnam despite the role it played in U.S. foreign policy starting in 1940, when Japan invaded the small nation. Pushing back Japanese occupation became part of the wider U.S. military strategy to defeat
Japan in the Pacifc campaign. As the Soviet Union grew in power after World War II, Vietnam was seen as the front line for stopping the spread of Communism. By the mid-1960s, the United States was fully engaged in war there driven by a policy to prevent the spread of Communism to the rest of Southeast Asia. Exploring the impact of the war nationally and locally, one can learn about not only the politics of the Cold War, but the politics of American democracy. This complicated history unfolds in the exhibition The Vietnam War: 1945 – 1975.

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