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Environmental Destruction in Vietnam

The Impact of Civil War and Conflict on Identity

Themes & Core Questions:

  1. How do people define citizenship or nationality in the times of government crisis?  To what degree does political instability affect the common person?

  2. What are the economic impacts (both positive and negative) of domestic conflict or civil war on the average citizen?  What are some of the survival strategies used to deal with these impacts?

  3. How do the five themes of geography (location, place, human & environmental interaction, movement, and region formation) shape the decisions made by citizens during conflict or civil war?

  4. How do conflicts or civil wars affect religious institutions and the religious beliefs of the average man or woman?

Overview: A student designed the video for this lesson from the pictures of a Vietnam War veteran.  They are arranged to music to illustrate the environmental impact of the Vietnam War.  It should be used to emphasize sections from “Resuscitation of the Dead Earth” and used to initiate a discussion on the impact of war on the environment.  It is ironic that the setting of Dinh Mai-Ly’s Letter is also in Binh Hoa.  The poems attached can also be used to reemphasize the impact of war on the common person as well.

Time Required: 1 class periods or 90 minutes.

Suggested Grade Levels: Grades 8 –12

Interdisciplinary Applications: Social Studies and Literature

NJ Core Content Standards: 6.2, 6.4, 6.6, 6.8, 6.9

Instructional Objectives:

  1. Explain how civil war impacts the common person.

  2. Analyze the effects of conflict on identity using PEERS.

  3. Synthesize the understanding of the impact of civil war or conflict on the common person by developing empathy for the various decisions they have to make.


  1. Students should read “Resuscitation of the Dead Earth” for homework.
  2. Begin lesson the next day with the video clip on the Environmental Destruction of Vietnam.
  3. Have students select passages from “Resuscitation…” that emphasize the destruction to the land and discuss.
  4. If the quality of the discussion warrants an essay assignment, have students respond to the question: Should the United States have been responsible for assisting Vietnam in cleaning up the environmental effects of the chemical defoliants used during the war according to the 1925 Geneva Convention or any other chemical warfare ban?
  5. OR afterwards have students read each of the 5 poems to review the impact of the Vietnam War on the common person and do the Literary Analysis for Homework.



  • Video Clip “The Environmental Destruction of Vietnam” by Jon Turner with pictures contributed by Marge and Frank Trestka, 1995

  • Chung, Ly Qui, Between Two Fires,  “Resuscitation of the Dead Earth”, by Chu Thao, Praeger Publishers, New York, 1970. This is where the short story on Binh Hoa came from.  It is filled with interesting first person stories from the Vietnamese perspective about the war.

  • Larson, Wendy Wilder and Tran Thi Nga, Shallow Graves: Two Women and Vietnam, Random House, New York, 1986.  This is where the poems came from, but there are many more in this book that traces the lives of an American and a Vietnamese woman and how their destinies cross.

  • The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Chemical Weapons Convention, A guided tour of The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.  Available: 9 July 2001

Assessment: Literary Analysis Worksheet Essay on the Destruction of Vietnam (Optional)

To learn more about the influence of Civil Wars on our global society, click on the links below:
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