November 9th, 1967 - The launch of Apollo 4, the maiden flight of the Saturn V, takes place at 7:00 am EST.
Apollo 4 was an unmanned test flight, the first flight of the massive S-IC and the S-II stages, as well as a test of the S-II stages ability to restart once in orbit. Thanks to the success of the flight, another four test missions were canceled. This streamlined the flight schedule, achieving the target of landing a man on the moon before the decade was out.
Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Viet Cong did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The referees of history may make it a draw. Another standoff may be coming in the big battles expected south of the Demilitarized Zone. Khe Sanh could well fall, with a terrible loss in American lives, prestige and morale, and this is a tragedy of our stubbornness there; but the bastion no longer is a key to the rest of the northern regions, and it is doubtful that the American forces can be defeated across the breadth of the DMZ with any substantial loss of ground. Another standoff. On the political front, past performance gives no confidence that the Vietnamese government can cope with its problems, now compounded by the attack on the cities. It may not fall, it may hold on, but it probably won’t show the dynamic qualities demanded of this young nation. Another standoff.
We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi’s winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that – negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.
To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.
Walter Cronkite in a broadcast on 27 February 1968
The Battle of Hue occurred during the larger Tet Offensive, a series of coordinated surprise attacks by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army against targets in South Vietnam which began on January 30, 1968 during the Vietnamese New Year holiday. Although their advances were ultimately turned back, the campaign helped to diminish support for the war in the U.S.
Explore 12 critical episodes in the Vietnam War through National Archives records which trace the policies and decisions made by the architects of the conflict and help untangle why the United States became involved in Vietnam, why it went on so long, and why it was so divisive for American society.
Please watch the first fifty seconds that play on this video.
It’s people from all over the world watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin step on the Moon. There’s something about the looks on their faces that could bring me to tears. If you need another taste click here (or go to 2:01) and listen to Walter Cronkite, laughing, tearing up and just shaking his head in speechlessness.
Physics and engineering are hard subjects. When I see those faces though I know it’s worthwhile.
On this day, January 30 in 1968, The Tet Offensive, also known as the Big Lie began. By the end of 1967, the Communist cause in the Vietnam War was in deep trouble. Hanoi’s decision to launch the Tet offensive was born of desperation. It was an effort to seize the northern provinces of South Vietnam with conventional troops while triggering an urban uprising by the Vietcong that would distract the Americans — and, some still hoped, revive the fading hopes of the Communists. The offensive itself began on January 30, with attacks on American targets in Saigon and other Vietnamese cities, and ended a little more than a month later when Marines crushed the last pockets of resistance in the northern city of Hue. It not only destroyed the Vietcong as an effective political and military force, it also, together with the siege of Khe Sanh, crippled the NVA, which lost 20 percent of its forces in the South and suffered 33,000 men killed in action, all for no gain. By the end of 1969, over 70 percent of South Vietnam’s population was rated by the U.S. military as under government control, compared with 42 percent at the beginning of 1968.
Josef Goebbels called it the Big Lie, the deliberate misrepresentation of facts and reality in order to achieve a political objective. It’s been part and parcel of the New World Disorder we’ve lived under for the past century, ever since Vladimir Lenin first used a Big Lie to disguise his seizure of power from Russia’s post-czar provisional government in November 1917, by telling the Russian people he was preventing a coup not perpetrating one. America’s first major encounter with the Big Lie, with all its disastrous consequences, started 50 years ago today, when the American mainstream media — CBS and the other networks, plus the New York Times and the Washington Post — decided to turn the major Communist Tet offensive against U.S. forces and South Vietnam on January 30, 1968, into an American defeat, rather than what it actually was: a major American victory. We’ve all lived in the disorder and chaos that campaign set in motion ever since.
Happy 100th, Walter Cronkite! 11/04/1916 - 7/17/2009
Iconic newsman Walter Cronkite was born 100 years ago on November 4, 1916. His career as a broadcast journalist spanned 5 decades and 9 U.S. presidents. From the 1930s to the 1980s Cronkite reported on the biggest news of the day including D-Day, the Nuremberg Trials, the Vietnam War, civil rights, the moon missions, and Watergate. It was Cronkite who broke the news of President Kennedy’s assassination, and he covered the subsequent killings of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, and John Lennon.
In 1972, a nationwide poll determined that Walter Cronkite was “the most trusted man in America.” Other choices in the poll had included contemporary journalists, the Vice President, and the President. (via @ourpresidents)