Thirty-five years ago today Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), which had been the capital of South Vietnam, fell to the Communists making Vietnam one country under Communist rule with its capital Hanoi. America had withdrawn its last troops earlier, on orders from President Richard Nixon. Once they left, the outcome was virtually certain.
It's so long ago it's hard to remember why we got involved. Were we trying to restore French rule in a colony they could not hold themselves? That's what Vietnam had been, of course, though the Japanese occupied it during World War II. Did we simply think Communism must be opposed everywhere? At least we seem to have gotten over that.
And we've become friends with Vietnam, at least sort of. The last time I was there a few years ago, you'd see American veterans, even in Hanoi, telling their wives and kids when and where they'd served in that long-ago war..
So we can get over wars. We travel to and trade with Japan and Germany, our foes in World War II. I wonder if we'll be as lucky in the future--if today's U.S. soldiers will take their families to see the sights in Baghdad or Kabul. Must we now add Tripoli to the list?
We don't know what the future holds, of course, but the past can sometimes teach us things.
Morton is a retired political reporter who worked in Washington for CBS News from 1964-1993 and for CNN from 1993-2006. He attended his first political convention in 1960 and has been to most of them since then.