Tet, is considered to be one of the most important holiday in the entire year in Vietnam as on this day, the new lunar year starts. Tet is considered to be equal with the combination of Christmas, Thanksgiving, New year’s eve and Easter. Tet offensive is one of the major turning point in the Vietnam war. On January 31st, more than 80,000 troops of the north Vietnamese attacked on the south Vietnam and the Americans who was the alley of south Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops and the communists brutality attacked on the urban areas of of south Vietnam before this they had never came to the urban areas of the south.
Oral histories are either interviews, stories or biographies of the individuals who tell their past by writing or telling these stories either by recording them or by giving interviews. Saving the oral history was no doubt a difficult thing at that time due to the lack of the technology because of the two reasons. Firstly, most of the people who gave perspective about this war were the soldiers who were either fighting at the front end in the war or were off the field but in the war zone where most of the time they don’t had computerized technologies. Secondly, most of the oral history is preserved by the letters written by the old veterans or is preserved by the stories told by them which were hard to remember.
For many events that happened in this world, oral history has been used as a major alternative against the traditional history. It has filled the gaps of the traditional written history which was used to happen in the past. If we talk about the Vietnam war, we would come to know about many facts and reasons of the war through the interviews of the old veterans who served in the Vietnam during the war. Many veterans have wrote their life stories about the war which also became a part of the oral history.
Tran Van Tan was a secret American agent working undercover in the Vietnam during the period of war. At the time of Tet offensive he was in the Vietnam when the northers attack the American embassy in the Saigon. He was a secret agent and provided information to the American soldiers who were deployed in the South Vietnam at the time of offensive. Although it was a very difficult task to make contact while staying in the capital when your embassy is under attack but still he managed to do so.
At the time Vietnam war, more than 200,000 american troops were deployed in the south Vietnam for their help and that much troops make hundreds of thousands of stories out of which we don’t know that which one is true and which one is not because everyone has its perspective and we cant judge the perspective of one person until unless we know the history. According to a military personnel who was sitting in the Washington DC, America was working on how to deescalate from this war when the event of Tet Offensive happened. Because the government was facing so much pressure rom the public that this is not our war so should not become a part of this. Government was seriously considering to call out its troops from the Vietnam but the Tet Offensive made American government to rethink on their decision.
There is a perspective about the Vietnam war that in most of the situations, American forces over reacted and caused more damaged to the south Vietnam than the northers. A Welsh photo journalist who was serving in the Vietnam during the Tet Offensive event says that communists knew that Americans are going to over react on every situation and will cause more damage to the south. So whenever they wanted to capture any city, they always send only few of their people to the city who created a panic situation in the city and as predicted, Americans over reacted and bombed the whole cty.
There are hundreds of thousands of stories about the Tet Offensive. Each story tells a different perspective about the war. Some people say that this war was started by the Americans as after the end of world war II, Russia was emerging as a superpower which America didn’t liked. Russia was increasing its influence in the Easter Asia and America thought that if it raced to the Vietnam it would be very difficult for America to get rid to this communist situation. So they probed the southerns to start a war.
With each story there come a new perspective and people start thinking that new perspective as the truth. But the truth is no one knows about the truth of these events as oral history did not give us any proof about the happening of the event. These interviews can become beneficial as a historical evidence if people giving these interviews provide some evidence while telling the actual story. Because without the evidence, a person cannot recognize that which perspective is true and which is not.
Pitfall of Oral History
Accurate oral history depends upon how good memory you have and how firm grip you have on your memories. Oral history does not remains the same with the passage of time but it changes with the change of time, from generation to generation.
Tet offensive is considered to be turning point in the Vietnam war. As according to one perspective, before this event, America was seriously thinking to pull back all of its soldiers. But this event forced the American government to stay in this war. Yet again, this is the oral information and no body has any proof of this statement. Although oral history is different from traditional written history but still it many drawbacks due to which no one ever knows that which perspective is true and which one is not.