Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and Chairman Thieu at a Dinner in Guam

March 20, 1967

In 1873, when Vietnam was disputing the right of France to extend control over the whole country, a scholar named Bui Vien was sent by the Emperor to enlist the help of the United States. He was received by President Grant.

On his way home he was informed of President Grant's decision that because of unforeseen circumstances--the United States would be unable to assist Vietnam.

He stopped in Japan to see an old friend, the American consul in Yokohama. As people did in those days in Asia, the two men exchanged poems. Here is what Bui Vien wrote:

"We pour out wine into glasses at Yokohama in the ninth month--in autumn.

Turning my head towards the clouds of Vietnam, I am anxious about my country.

Sea and land--memory and emotion--remind me of my former journey.

Enjoying myself with you, I regret all the more that we must part.

Spiritual companion, in what year will we be together in the same sampan?"

Today we know the answer. We are together. And we know our destination. We established it years ago, and affirmed it at Honolulu and Manila. The brave sons of both our nations reaffirm it anew with every day that passes.

The trip is not yet over. The waters ahead may be rough. But together, with courage and unflagging devotion to the duty we share, we will make it.

Gentlemen, to the free peoples of Vietnam and the United States, who love their liberty and fight to preserve it.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a dinner at Nimitz House, his residence on Guam. Chairman Thieu responded as follows:

Mr. President, gentlemen:

I would like to thank you most sincerely for making this gathering not only an opportunity for the leaders of both Governments to exchange views on common problems, but also a family affair in which protocol yields to informality and cordiality.

I am deeply touched by your evocation of the historical diplomatic mission. In the last century, Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Vien went on a good will mission to the United States, a great country from across the Pacific Ocean, in what was for us-may I say--the Far East.

What I would like to add in recalling the history of Vietnamese-American friendship is that, almost a century and a half ago, an American Ambassador of good will, named John White, also came to Vietnam. He was a well-respected citizen of Boston, a businessman, and traveler. History did not record his poems, but he wrote memoirs about his influences in our exotic land.

Today we have had the privilege and the great pleasure to have in Ambassador Lodge a much more illustrious Ambassador from Boston.

We are sad to see him leaving, but the years he spent in Vietnam will long be remembered.

We know that with Ambassador Bunker, another page of cordial and constructive friendship will be opened.

In this spirit may I ask you, Mr. President and gentlemen, to join me in a toast to the everlasting friendship and solidarity between our two nations, for freedom, peace, and progress.

[As printed above this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office at Guam.]

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and Chairman Thieu at a Dinner in Guam Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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