Image courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration
In this 1957 photograph, President Dwight Eisenhower meets with President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam at National Airport.
On this date, President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam addressed a Joint Meeting
of Congress. An American ally against communism in Asia, Diem embarked on a two-week visit to the United States. Flying from Hawaii on President Dwight Eisenhower’s private plane, Columbine III, and greeted at National Airport by the President, Diem received full military honors including a 21-gun salute. As part of his state visit, Diem addressed
a Joint Meeting, presided over by Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn
of Texas and Vice President Richard M. Nixon
of California. The Vietnamese leader expressed gratitude to the United States for “moral and material aid.” He outlined the history of his country and his hope for its future. Diem concluded his 20-minute speech by linking Vietnam's future "with the interests of the people of the free world." “In the face of increased international tension and Communist pressure in southeast Asia, I could not repeat too often how much the Vietnamese people are grateful for American aid, and how much they are conscious of its importance, profound significance, and amount,” Diem told Representatives and Senators. The Joint Meeting concluded with a luncheon in honor of President Diem which was originally scheduled to take place in the Old Supreme Court Chamber. At the last minute, the fete moved to the Senate District Committee Room to accommodate a luncheon to honor First Lady Mamie Eisenhower at the request of Mrs. Pat Nixon.