LBJ: "We Will Stand in Viet-Nam"


On the 28th of July, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson held a news conference.  He wanted to address why he thought it important for Americans to be involved in Vietnam.

He began his speech by reading a letter he'd received from a Mother whose son was serving in Vietnam.  She wanted to know why that type of service was necessary:

Dear Mr. President:  In my humble way I am writing to you about the crisis in Viet-Nam. I have a son who is now in Viet-Nam. My husband served in World War II.  Our country was at war, but now, this time, it is just something that I don't understand.  Why?

Well, I have tried to answer that question dozens of times and more in practically every State in this Union. I have discussed it fully in Baltimore in April, in Washington in May, in San Francisco in June.  Let me again, now, discuss it here in the East Room of the White House.

Some of the President's reasons for war included these:

  • Our power, therefore, is a very vital shield. If we are driven from the field in Viet-Nam, then no nation can ever again have the same confidence in American protection.
  • Most of the non-Communist nations of Asia cannot, by themselves and alone, resist growing might and the grasping ambition of Asian communist.
  • We did not choose to be the guardians at the gate, but there is no one else.
  • Moreover, we are in Viet-Nam to fulfill one of the most solemn pledges of the American nation. Three Presidents - President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, and your present President - over 11 years have committed themselves and have promised to help defend this small and valiant nation. Strengthened by that promise, the people of South Viet-Nam have fought for many long years. Thousands of them have died. Thousands more have been crippled and scarred by war. We just cannot now dishonor our word, or abandon our commitment, or leave those who believed us and who trusted us to the terror and repression and murder that would follow.
  • We do not want an expanding struggle with consequences that no one can perceive, nor will we bluster or bully or flaunt our power, but we will not surrender and we will not retreat, for behind our American pledge lies the determination and resources, I believe, of all of the American nation.
  • ... we do not seek the destruction of any government, nor do we covet a foot of any territory, but we insist and we will always insist that the people of South Viet-Nam shall have the right of choice, the right to shape their own destiny in free elections in the South, or throughout all Viet-Nam under international supervision, and they shall not have any government imposed upon them by force and terror so long as we can prevent it. ... This was the purpose of the 1954 agreements which the Communists have now cruelly shattered. If the machinery of those agreements was tragically weak, its purposes still guide our action...
  • I have spoken to you today of the divisions and the forces and the battalions and the units. But I know them all, every one. I have seen them in thousand streets, of a hundred towns, in every State in this Union - working and laughing and building, and filled with hope and life. I think that I know, too, how their mothers weep and how their families sorrow. This is the most agonizing and the most painful duty of your President.
  • I also know, as a realistic public servant, that as long as there are men who hate and destroy, we must have the courage to resist or we will see it all - all that we have built, all that we hope to build, all of our dreams for freedom - all - all - will be swept away with the flood of conquest.  So, too, this shall not happen.  We will stand in Viet-Nam.

President Johnson's entire speech at the July 28th press conference is available for online reading.

Media Credits

Cover sheet of LBJ's press-conference presentation - on July 28, 1965 - online, courtesy U.S. National Archives.



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"LBJ: "We Will Stand in Viet-Nam"" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 29, 2020.
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