Letter to President Kennedy - Bobbie Lou Pendergrass

This image depicts the first page of a two-page letter which Bobbie Lou Pendergrass wrote to President Kennedy, dated February 18, 1963.

Losing her brother in Vietnam—at a time when America only had advisers "in country" who were not allowed to take action—Ms. Pendergrass was upset.  She draws a contrast between Americans fighting in World War II and Americans being sent to Vietnam:

...During those war years and even all during the Korean conflict we worried about all of them - but that was all very different.  They were wars that our country was fighting, and everyone here knew that our sons and brothers were giving their lives for their country

Ms. Pendergrass did not view U.S. involvement in Vietnam in the same way.  Why were Americans in that country at all?  And ... if they were there, why weren't they allowed to defend themselves?

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!

President Kennedy responded to this letter. Among other things, he answered Bobbie Lou's question on why American was in Vietnam at all:

Americans are in Vietnam because we have determined that this country must not fall under Communist domination...

...It is also apparent that the Communist attempt to take over Viet Nam, is only part of a larger plan to for bringing the entire area of Southeast Asia under their domination. Though it is only a small part of the area geographically, Viet Nam is now the most crucial.

The President concludes his letter by trying to assure Ms. Pendergrass that her brother had believed in his mission:

I have written to you at length because I know that it is important to you to understand why we are in Viet Nam. James McAndrews [Bobbie Lou's brother] must have foreseen that his service could take him into a war like this; a war in which he took part not as a combatant but as an advisor. I am sure that he understood the necessity of such a situation, and I know that as a soldier, he knew full scale war in Viet Nam is at the moment unthinkable.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy the U.S. National Archives.



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"Letter to President Kennedy - Bobbie Lou Pendergrass" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 05, 2020.
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