Friday, August 1, 2014

John Foster Dulles and Vietnam

Sixty years ago today in 1954, the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam into two countries at the 17th parallel. It also freed Vietnam from many years of colonial rule by the French and formally recognized Communist control of North Vietnam.
This year we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. I am old enough to remember when our country did not call it a “war.” In the year 1968 alone, over 14,000 Americans died in Vietnam; a good many of them during and due to the Tet offensive. There were several individuals from our area who participated in this war, by choice or by draft.
During a two-year transition period created by the above-mentioned Geneva Accords, Vietnamese civilians could relocate to either North or South Vietnam, and the military was to return to their place of origin. Elections were scheduled to be held in 1956, but that did not occur.
The United States and South Vietnam never actually signed the Accords, and although the USA did formally acknowledge them they did not promise to obey them. Our Secretary of State John Foster Dulles did not recognize, shake hands or speak to the Chinese and Viet Minh delegates. Edward Moise has written a 10-part account of the events leading up to, surrounding, and ending the Vietnam War that can be found at
It is a thoughtful account of the many factors at play during this period of our history and I learned much of the background and details that I hadn't considered or known of before.
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was married to Janet Pomeroy Avery of Auburn, NY, and is buried in Arlington Cemetery, whose website has a very complete biography of his life at Their son, John F. W. Dulles, was born in Auburn in 1913. It is indeed a small world after all.