I don’t really get all the hoopla about the Chinese New Year. Frankly, I don’t care much about our own New Year’s celebrations either.
I don’t stay UP to watch the ball drop any more, and watching Dick Clark breaks my heart.
Plus, the music sucks, and the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest is wearing a tad thin on me.
But, the other day, a friend of mine said, “Happy Tet!” on the way out the door.
Really, Happy Tet.
When I hear Tet, which is the Vietnamese celebration of the new year, I think of one thing:
The Tet Offensive.
The US was caught with their pants down on this one.
Tet Nguyen Dan is the celebration of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, and usually coincides with the Chinese New Year.
On January 30, 1968, after a mutually agreed cease-fire, the forces of the People’s Army of Viet Nam launched a surprise attack against the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and the United States.
Its purpose was to use the element of surprise to attack civilian and military commands in South Viet Nam.
We, the allied forces of the United States of America and South Viet Nam, were not ready. The National Liberation Front, aka Viet Cong, launched an attack of 80,000 communist soldiers, striking more than 100 towns and cities. It was well planned, well thought out, and well executed.
In the city of Hue alone, more than 2,000 civilians are still listed as missing. Thousands – THOUSANDS – were killed there by the Viet Cong and the National Liberation Front.
The initial attacks stunned the Allied forces of the South and did major damage to command, life, and the South’s cause. The world and most importantly, America realized that North Viet Nam could launch a devastating attack, and could possibly…and eventually…win the war.
Technically, it ended in a defeat for the Viet Cong, but it changed the American Psyche, turned the tide of public opinion of the war in the United States.
In the offensive, there were 45,850 casualties: 9,078 killed, 35,212 wounded, and 1,530 missing.
Some of those are still missing.
Today, the Tet Offensive is barely mentioned in the US. Oh, they study it in school, there’s a paragraph or two about it in the US History books, and it’s mentioned in passing.
Frankly, we should remember it more often.
So, forgive me if I pass on the Happy Tet thing. I don’t remember it as happy at all.
Yeah, I’ll pass.