September 23, 1963 – No Black Tie Dinners For Vietnam – No Easy Answers For Birmingham.

Robert McNamara - 1963
Defense Secretary Robert McNamara – Peering into the Rabbit Hole of Vietnam.
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September 23, 1963 – The Today Show News with Frank Blair – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

September 23, 1963 – A busy news day and a long one for President Kennedy. First with news of growing intensity over the situation in Vietnam, and the mountain of contradicting reports being sorted through back in Washington. On this day, President Kennedy met with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman Gen. Maxwell Taylor before sending them to Vietnam on a fact-finding mission, regarding the recent wave of Buddhist Protests and the Diem government handling of those protests and inspections of our military involvement there. No time for formalities or Black-tie Dinners. The two representatives were being sent to Vietnam to find out just what was happening and how American influence was impacting the situation, for better or worse. Although American involvement was relegated to “advisers” and no substantial military presence in the country, fears this could erupt into a volatile situation were profound – even though public opinion had not gone into protest over the potential of a protracted war, there was little to indicate America was bracing itself for casualty reports.

Protest was in full-swing in the area of Civil Rights on this September 23rd. Funeral services for slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers and demonstrations nationwide over the recent killing of four young girls at the Church bombing in Birmingham prompted President Kennedy to summon various leaders, both black and white, to Washington to gather insight as to what was going on in the South before sending two personal representatives; former West Point Football coach Earl Blake and ex-Army Secretary Kenneth Royal to Birmingham to assess the situation first hand.

And that’s just a sample of what happened, this September 23, 1963 as reported by Frank Blair of NBC.

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