April 7, 1965 – President Johnson at Johns Hopkins University – ABC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
In what was billed as a Major Foreign Policy Address over our involvement in Vietnam, LBJ delivered a speech at Johns Hopkins University, this day in 1965. The subject was Vietnam, and the intent was to get America used to the idea of getting itself geared up for another war.
What seemed inevitable was finally coming to fruition – we were getting involved in the Vietnam conflict and our involvement was getting deeper by the day. But in 1965 opposition to it was sparse; there was still opposition, much of it relegated to college campuses and marginalized by the media and the government as the rant of a Communist-inspired minority.
We were told it was “the good fight” – we were told it would be over quickly – we were told Vietnam was merely a stepping stone to the goal of Communist domination in Southeast Asia – we were told the Free World depended on us. We were told lots of things.
LBJ: “Tonight Americans and Asians are dying for a world where each people may choose its own path to change.
This is the principle for which our ancestors fought in the valleys of Pennsylvania. It is the principle for which our sons fight tonight in the jungles of Viet-Nam.
Viet-Nam is far away from this quiet campus. We have no territory there, nor do we seek any. The war is dirty and brutal and difficult. And some 400 young men, born into an America that is bursting with opportunity and promise, have ended their lives on Viet-Nam’s steaming soil.
Why must we take this painful road?
Why must this Nation hazard its ease, and its interest, and its power for the sake of a people so far away?
We fight because we must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny. And only in such a world will our own freedom be finally secure.
This kind of world will never be built by bombs or bullets. Yet the infirmities of man are such that force must often precede reason, and the waste of war, the works of peace.
We wish that this were not so. But we must deal with the world as it is, if it is ever to be as we wish”.
Ironically 10 years and three Presidents later, to the month, the war would finally grind to an end. The war with seemingly no end and questionable motives was finished.
But on this day in 1965, LBJ told us it would all be different.
Here is President Johnson’s complete address to Johns Hopkins University, given on April 7, 1965.
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