Bobbie Lou Pendergrass was upset. On February 18, 1963 she wrote a letter to President Kennedy. Her brother's helicopter had been shot down in Vietnam. Her family was bitter.
Asking JFK why her brother had been sent to Southeast Asia in the first place, Ms. Pendergrass made an observation that would be repeated countless times by other upset Americans during the next decade:
I can't help but feel that giving one's life for one's country is one thing, but being sent to a country where half our country never even heard of and being shot at without even a chance to shoot back is another thing altogether!
Later in her letter, she asks the question people still ask today:
If a war is worth fighting - isn't it worth fighting to win.
In one of the most interesting documents listing reasons for American involvement in Vietnam, President Kennedy took the time to answer Ms. Pendergrass. As he concluded his remarks, the President wrote:
...full scale war in Viet Nam is at the moment unthinkable.
In less than two years, the "unthinkable" happened. By 1968, more than 500,000 U.S. military forces were in Vietnam. More than 30,000 Americans were already dead.