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Letter to President Ngo Dinh Diem on the Sixth Anniversary of the Republic of Viet-Nam.

October 26, 1961

[Released October 26, 1961. Dated October 24, 1961]

Dear Mr. President:

On the sixth anniversary of the Republic of Viet-Nam, the United States of America is proud to pay tribute to the courage of the Vietnamese people. We have seen and marked well the anguish--and the glory-of a nation that refuses to submit to Communist terror. From the people that twice defeated the hordes of Kublai Khan, we could expect no less. America, and indeed all free men, must be grateful for the example you have set.

Mr. President, in 1955 we observed the dangers and difficulties that surrounded the birth of your Republic. In the years that followed, we saw the dedication and vigor of your people rapidly overcoming those dangers and difficulties. We rejoiced with you in the new rice springing again from fields long abandoned, in the new hospitals and roads and schools that were built, and in the new hopes of a people who had found peace after a long and bitter war. The record you established in providing new hope, shelter and security to nearly a million fleeing from Communism in the North stands out as one of the most laudable and best administered efforts in modern times.

Your brave people scarcely tasted peace before they were forced again into war. The Communist response to the growing strength and prosperity of your people was to send terror into your villages, to burn your new schools and to make ambushes of your new roads. On this October 26, we in America can still rejoice in the courage of the Vietnamese people, but we must also sorrow for the suffering, destruction and death which Communism has brought to Viet-Nam, so tragically represented in the recent assassination of Colonel Hoang Thuy Nam, one of your outstanding patriots.

Mr. President, America is well aware of the increased intensity which in recent months has marked the war against your people, and of the expanding scale and frequency of the Communist attacks. I have read your speech to the Vietnamese National Assembly in which you outline so dearly the threat of Communism to Viet-Nam. And I have taken note of the stream of threats and vituperation, directed at your government and mine, that flows day and night from Hanoi. Let me assure you again that the United States is determined to help Viet-Nam preserve its independence, protect its people against Communist assassins, and build a better life through economic growth.

I am awaiting with great interest the report of General Maxwell Taylor based on his recent talks and observations in Viet-Nam, supplementing reports I have received from our Embassy there over many months. I will then be in a better position to consider with you additional measures that we might take to assist the republic of Viet-Nam in its struggle against the Communist aggressors.

Mr. President, we look forward in these perilous days to a future October 26, when Viet-Nam will again know freedom and peace. We know that day is coming, and we pray that it may be soon. I speak for the American people when I say that we are confident of the success of the Vietnamese nation, that we have faith in its strength and valor, and that we know that the future of the Vietnamese people is not Communist slavery but the freedom and prosperity which they have defended and pursued throughout their history.



John F. Kennedy, Letter to President Ngo Dinh Diem on the Sixth Anniversary of the Republic of Viet-Nam. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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