Vietnam War

A Changing Society

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In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States sent increasing numbers of military advisors and later troops to South Vietnam to prevent a communist takeover in that country. American involvement in the war was extremely controversial and as the number of casualties mounted, opposition to the war became more organized and visible.

Two soldiers with a minister in Vietnam.

Two soldiers with a minister in Vietnam. RJD_04_01_0055_0001_006

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In those days, Vietnam was very controversial. And he knew that a lot of our friends were on either side. And he knew how hard it was. My brothers lost a very good friend. Jay McKeon was one of Michael’s best friends. He died in Vietnam. And he did not have to go. He should have been home. So it was a terrible war. It was not good on either side.

Mary Carol Vanecko, daughter of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, March 5, 2009

Newton Minow discusses Mayor Daley’s personal doubts about the war. Click on image to play video.

Video: Newton Minow, Chair of Federal Communications Commission 1961-1963, interview excerpt, October 2, 2003

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Richard J. Daley meets with President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Richard J. Daley meets with President Lyndon Baines Johnson, ca. 1963-1969. RJD_04_01_0072_0001_003

 

Daley recommended, “You appoint a commission of five people….I’ll pick the three who would be against, you pick the two for it. It will go down three to two. It won’t be your decision. They’ll come back and say, “We recommend getting out.” But Johnson became very stubborn. The war machine was there with McNamara. A lot of Democrats were supporting this, the domino theory, and all of that.

Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, March 11, 2009

 

 

Richard J. and Eleanor Daley, Col. Jack Riley, Lady Bird Johnson, and President Lyndon B. Johnson in Chinatown, May 17, 1966. RJD_04_01_0073_0001_009

Richard J. and Eleanor Daley, Col. Jack Riley, Lady Bird Johnson, and President Lyndon B. Johnson in Chinatown, May 17, 1966. RJD_04_01_0073_0001_009

People had the mistaken impression that Daley was in favor of the war. It was just his loyalty to Johnson, “I’m not going to undercut my president.” And I think his logic was pretty straightforward, “Why spend all of this money bombing another country when you can spend it building my city, and other ones?” He never said that in those words. But that’s what he figured. So he told Humphrey, “You’ve got to come out against the war.” And Humphrey said, “I can’t do that.” And Daley said, “Why not?” He said, “Lyndon wouldn’t like it.” And Daley said, “So what? You’re the nominee.”

Alex Seith, Illinois Senate Candidate, December 19, 2008