Lyndon B. Johnson’s Christmas Message to Americans in Vietnam, December 23, 1964

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“TO MY fellow Americans in Vietnam, and to their wives, children, and parents, I send warmest Christmas greetings.

Those of us who are at home, full of joy and thoughts of peace, are ever mindful of, and grateful to, those thousands of you who toil today where there is no peace.

You are in Vietnam, far from the places and people you love, because the forces that have given our nation strength and wealth have also placed upon it the burden of defending freedom–even in remote and distant villages.

In every generation the burden of protecting liberty has fallen to a few stouthearted men. We Americans celebrate this holy season in liberty because our forebears had the courage, the determination, the will to sacrifice, that was equal to the challenges before them. Future generations in many lands will spend Christmas days in freedom because there are men everywhere who are equal to this grim challenge in our time.

You who carry freedom’s banner in Vietnam are engaged in a war that is undeclared–yet tragically real. It is a war of terror where the aggressor moves in the secret shadows of the nights. Murder and kidnapping and deception are his tools. Subversion and conquest are his goals. It is a war waged with political, social, economic, and psychological weapons as well as guns and bombs. Thus every American in Vietnam, whether soldier, embassy secretary, or AID official, whether in the jungle, in the mountains, or in the cities, is on the front lines of this struggle.

Those of you who are helping the Vietnamese people to defend themselves against this insidious warfare may serve in places with names that ring strange to American ears: Long Khot, Kien Tuong, Binh Gia. But your sacrifices are known and honored in American towns and cities more familiar to you, for you are meeting your country’s commitment to a world of justice.

All Americans join me in sending thanks–and not at Christmas only, but around the clock, and around the year.”

Lyndon B. Johnson: “Christmas Message to the Americans in Viet-Nam.,” December 23, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26769

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