War During July 4 Celebration a Reminder of Vietnam
JOHN YDSTIE, host:
America is preparing to celebrate another Independence Day at war. More than a hundred U.S. troops were killed in Iraq last month. Forty years ago in a different war, Americans were fighting and dying in far greater numbers.
(Soundbite of gunfire)
YDSTIE: More than 11,000 U.S. troops died in Vietnam during 1967, about 150 in the first three days of June alone.
Unidentified Man: We got three ships down. One just crashed and burned.
YDSTIE: The anti-war movement was just starting to mobilize. About half a million protesters marched that spring in New York and San Francisco. On April 4th, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke against the war in New York City.
Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. (Civil Rights Activist): And I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government.
YDSTIE: Many believed the war was winnable in 1967. Three weeks after Dr. King's speech, General William Westmoreland summed up the enemy's strategy before a joint session of Congress.
General WILLIAM WESTMORELAND (Former U.S. Army Chief of Staff): Within its capabilities, the enemy in Vietnam is waging total war all day, every day, everywhere. He believes in force, and his intensification of violence is limited only by his resources and not by any moral inhibitions.
YDSTIE: But the general had no doubt the U.S. would prevail.
Gen. WESTMORELAND: The only strategy which can defeat such an organization is one of unrelenting but discriminating military, political and psychological pressure on his whole structure and at all levels.
YDSTIE: The White House agreed. At the beginning of August 1967, President Lyndon Johnson said he would send another 45,000 troops to Vietnam.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.