Vietnam Veterans Reflect on 50th Anniversary of Paris Peace Accords
ELMIRA, NY (WENY) -- Fifty years ago on January 27th, 1973, the United States signed the Paris Peace Accords, which effectively ended the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
The peace treaty was signed by the United States, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Republic of South Vietnam. The negotiations were years in the making, starting in 1968 before they were signed in 1973 at the International Conference Center in Paris, France.
WENY News spoke with Vietnam veterans about the anniversary. They tell us their feelings are complicated about how things were handled.
Dennis Wolfe, Senior is the president of the Vietnam War Museum in Elmira, and served in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Army. He said he continue to follow the war after he returned home from service, and feels as though the signing of the treaty did not benefit the U.S.
"I was never a big follower if you will of the treaty and the purposes of it. I still think we gave way too much away that really hindered the actual time that the Vietnamese people would have to be their own leaders, and their own government... for me, I don’t think it did anything really, except it did get us out, eventually, back door so to speak. And for me, that wasn’t the way it should have been. That's not why we had the deaths and the aggravation, and we still have the trauma of the war to this day. I'll take it to my grave," Wolfe said.
Kenneth Krieger also served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He is critical of the United States' involvement in the war.
After the Paris Peace Accords were signed, the agreement to end fighting between the three remaining powers ended almost immediately. In April 1975, South Vietnam was conquered by the North Vietnamese, and the two countries became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976.
"The end result was we are friendly with Vietnam now, and we do a lot trading with them and all that stuff. So why did we lose 58,000 lives, not to mention the amount of lives that were changed or ruined as a result of it? What purpose was it all? And did we accomplish any of that with these Paris negotiations. My answer is simply no," he said.
Locally, more than 100 service members from the Twin Tiers died while serving in the Vietnam war. More than 58,000 names of service men and women who died during the war are etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.