By Terry Leonard, Stars and Stripes
When Neil Armstrong took his small step for man in the lunar dust in July 1969, Americans saw it as proof there were no Earthly limits. Nothing then seemed beyond the reach of American power, prestige and know-how. It took Vietnam to expose the hubris in that sentiment.
The American Century was at its zenith. Unrivaled U.S. wealth and prosperity, predictable fruits of the postwar Pax Americana, lifted national influence to new heights globally. Hollywood, rock music, blue jeans and hamburgers carried American culture, taste and values to the far corners of the world.
Yet with the images of Apollo 11 still fresh on the mind, Vietnam forced Americans to accept limits to their power and to acknowledge their reach had exceeded their grasp.
Fighting in Vietnam
Voices of Vietnam
Coming soon: The experience