La Gente: El Movimiento/The Movement

Vietnam War

Anti-war rally in Denver

The United States fought an undeclared and unsuccessful war in a divided Vietnam from 1956 to 1975. The conflict divided Americans, too, including Chicanos. Overseas, soldiers of Mexican descent fought—and died—on the front lines in higher proportions than Anglos. At home, many protested the war. Military service in Vietnam reinforced inequalities for drafted, working-class, and poor Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans. They returned to a country that treated them unequally. Some veterans turned anger into activism.

Anti-war protest at the Colorado state capitol building

At a time when Americans were conflicted about Vietnam, many young Chicano men went overseas to fight in the armed forces. Some were drafted; others enlisted because they believed deeply in the cause and wanted to serve their country. Regardless of how they got involved, fighting in Vietnam was a brutal experience that had a profound impact on their lives.