Social Studies - 2018-19

VUS.12c - United States and NATO

The student will apply social science skills to understand the United States’ foreign policy during the Cold War era by

c) analyzing the efforts of the United States to protect Western Europe, including the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO);

Adopted: 2015



Millions of Americans served in the military during the Cold War, and their contributions were often at significant personal, professional, and political sacrifice in service to the United States.


American military forces during the Cold War 

 In response to the events associated with the Berlin Airlift, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed as a defensive alliance among the United States and Western European countries to prevent a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Soviet allies in Eastern Europe formed the Warsaw Pact, and for nearly 50 years, both sides maintained large military forces facing each other in Europe. 

 During the Cold War era, millions of Americans served in the military, defending freedom in wars and conflicts that were not always popular. Many were killed or wounded. As a result of their service, the United States and American ideals of democracy and freedom ultimately prevailed in the Cold War struggle with Soviet communism. 

 President Kennedy pledged in his inaugural address that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” In the same address, he also said, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” 

 President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, in an event that shook the nation’s confidence and began a period of internal strife and divisiveness, especially spurred by divisions over United States involvement in Vietnam. 

 Unlike veterans of World War II, who returned to a grateful and supportive nation, Vietnam veterans returned often to face indifference or outright hostility from some who opposed the war. 

 It was not until several years after the end of the Vietnam War that the wounds of the war began to heal in America, and Vietnam veterans were recognized and honored for their service and sacrifices.


Terms & Events

Marshall Plan


United Nations

Containment Policy

Cold War


Warsaw Pact



Truman Doctrine

Massive Retaliation

Free Market Economic System


Korean War


Watergate Scandal

“Bay of Pigs” Invasion

Cuban Missile Crisis

Bomb Drills

Bomb shelters


Kennedy’s Inaugural Address



Berlin Wall

American Space Program (NASA)

 “…One Small Step…”


Dwight D. Eisenhower

Richard Nixon

John F. Kennedy

John Glenn

Neil Armstrong

Alger Hiss

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Senator Joseph McCarthy

Fidel Castro

Mikhail Gorbachev

Ronald Reagan

Lyndon Johnson


Post WWII Europe

 Division of Germany and Berlin

Iron Curtain

Soviet Union

North Korea

South Korea

North Vietnam

South Vietnam




Hampton Roads


Updated: May 18, 2018