On this day in 1975 the last American soldiers left Vietnam, ending a ten-year period in which the United States dropped more bombs than during all of World War II. The long conflict and the many soldiers who fought there returned with both metals and scars, but they also returned with new words that reflected their intense experience in Southeast Asia.
In the book I Hear America Talking, Stuart Berg Flexner defines some of the key terms that came out of the Vietnam War:
Charlie: The term Viet Cong (short for Vietnamese Communist) was shortened by soldiers to V.C. Since the international phonetic alphabet used for communication designated the letter C as Charlie, and V for Victor, the enemy from North Vietnam was frequently designated Charlie.
Click: Military term for kilometer, possibly reflecting the sound of the letter K, the abbreviation for kilometer, or the clicking of a gun sight being adjusted for distance.
Defoliate: The spraying of chemicals or the use of bombs on enemy territory to destroy trees or crops, depriving the enemy of concealment or food.
Domino Theory: The belief that if Vietnam fell to the Communists, its neighbors in Southeast Asia would fall one by one, as in a row of dominoes.
Escalation: As the U.S. presence in Vietnam grew under the leadership of President Johnson, this term was used to describe the increase in troop levels. It is derived from escalator, a trademark name for a "moving staircase."
Fire fight: This term to describe a short engament replaced the common word skirmish.
Fragging: This term is derived from a commonly used weapon of the war, the fragmentation grenade. It became a verb to describe the killing of an officer by use of a grenade or any other means.
Today's Challenge: "I Love the Smell of Vocabulary In the Morning"
Use a good dictionary to look of the meaning of the following words from the Vietnam War. What do they mean, and how are they related to the conflict specifically?
Quote of the Day: Eloquence is a painting of the thoughts. –Blaise Pascal