“My fellow Americans, let us therefore unite as a nation in a firm and wise policy of real peace–not the peace of surrender, but peace with honor–not just peace in our time, but peace for generations to come.” President Nixon concluded his speech to the American people 50 years ago with those words to summarize his vision for ending the conflict in Vietnam.

On April 26, 1972, the President delivered a televised address to the American people to give a firsthand report on the military situation in Vietnam.

In his speech he announced three decisions:

  1. Continued troop withdrawal with the goal that by July 1, 1972, 90% of U.S. forces that were in Vietnam in 1969 would be withdrawn 

  2. Paris Peace Talks to be resumed with the first order of business to get the enemy to halt invasion of South Vietnam and return American prisoners of war

  3. Air and Naval attacks on military installations in North Vietnam will continue until the North Vietnamese stop their offensive in South Vietnam

Nixon went on to explain his strategy to the American people by saying, “let us bring our men home from Vietnam; let us end the war in Vietnam. But let us end it in such a way that the younger brothers and the sons of the brave men who have fought in Vietnam will not have to fight again in some other Vietnam at some time in the future.” The desire for peace with honor was a theme present throughout the speech as the President expressed his “profound sense of obligation to future generations.”

When reflecting on the speech in his memoirs Nixon stated, “It was a tough speech, and afterward I wished that I had made it even tougher.” 

View the speech here: