Three days after President Nixon’s second inauguration, he addressed the nation with this announcement: “we today have concluded an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia.”
“The Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” was signed in Paris on January 27, 1973, and is now known as the Paris Peace Accords. The joint agreement included a cease-fire, the return of American prisoners of war and the withdrawal of American forces from South Vietnam.
In his speech, President Nixon stated:
We must recognize that ending the war is only the first step toward building the peace. All parties must now see to it that this is a peace that lasts, and also a peace that heals—and a peace that not only ends the war in Southeast Asia but contributes to the prospects of peace in the whole world.
President Nixon’s predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, passed away one day before the announcement of the peace agreement. After learning of his death, Nixon wrote in his diary:
The sadness in Johnson’s case is that he did not live to see his position in history really established by reason of our winning a peace with honor in Vietnam. On the other hand, his family will see it and that is, of course, extremely important, and he will know it I am sure.
After delivering his televised address on January 23, Nixon notes in his memoirs that just before bed he wrote a note to LBJ’s widow, Lady Bird Johnson.
Dear Lady Bird,
I only wish Lyndon could have lived to hear my announcement of the Vietnam peace settlement tonight.
I know what abuse he took—particularly from members of his own party—in standing firm for peace with honor.
Now that we have such a settlement, we shall do everything we can to make it last so that he and other brave men who sacrificed their lives for this cause will not have died in vain.
In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, the Nixon Foundation is hosting a live, virtual event on January 26 at 10:00 AM PST featuring scholars and historians of the Vietnam War.