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Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks at the Station in Alexandria, Va., at the Start of Mrs. Johnson's Trip Through the South.
Lyndon B. Johnson
628 - Remarks at the Station in Alexandria, Va., at the Start of Mrs. Johnson's Trip Through the South.
October 6, 1964
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1963-64: Book II
Lyndon B. Johnson
1963-64: Book II

United States
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Governor, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls:

Alexandria has been chosen as the first stop for one of the greatest campaigners in America, and I am very proud to announce that I am her husband.

Tonight I am going to catch up with her in Raleigh, N.C., although I know I will never really overtake her. I plan to use the jet Air Force One tomorrow to try to meet her in New Orleans, but Lady Bird on her train will probably beat me there. She always does. Since I don't dare try to compete with her too much, we are going separate ways tomorrow.

Tomorrow I am going out to the Midwest heartland of America. I am going to report to the American people. I am going to talk about the proud record of our administration, the Kennedy-Johnson administration of the last 4 years.

I am going to present the overwhelming and the urgent issues of this campaign, and I am not going to tear down any person or any group in doing that.

Never before within the memory of any person here have the American people been asked to make a basic and radical departure from the beliefs and values which are the source of our economic health and our hopes for peace. I do not believe they are going to make that choice. They are going to choose to keep and build on the careful work of the men of both parties, the hard, patient work that has been going on for more than 30 years now.

They are going to choose to look ahead to the new problems which are rushing in upon us, our overcrowded cities, our inadequate schools, the growing mastery of the machine, the need to use our leisure time wisely and creatively. They are going to choose to, I think, continue the search, the quest, for peace, with reason and restraint--and, I hope, with constructive imagination.

From now until election day we are going to talk about the problems of the future, for this should be a campaign in which we explore the different ways to meet the new challenges of America in the turbulent sixties. Instead, the gauntlet has been thrown down, not to the future, but to the proved and tested values and solutions of the past. This is far less related to the real needs of our present day world. But it is a more fundamental challenge. We have no choice but to meet it, to crush it, to discard it, and then to get on with the tangible and difficult work of this fast-moving decade that we live in.

I want to ask each of you to pledge yourselves this morning to go out for the next 4 weeks, for the next 30 days, and contribute your time and your talents and your energy to your country by supporting Gus Johnson for Congress and Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency.

This is a wonderful crowd. We thank you so much for coming out. I now want to introduce to you my daughter, Lynda Bird.

Note: The President spoke at about 8:30 a.m. at Union Station, Alexandria, Va., at the beginning of Mrs. Johnson's tour of the South aboard the "Lady Bird Special."

Mrs. Johnson addressed the crowd just before the President spoke. The text of her remarks follows:


"Sunshine and lots of friends--what could be a better way to start the whistle-stop? Right here in Alexandria, in view of the monument to one of your first and foremost citizens, George Washington, I am delighted to be on this platform with several Johnsons, two of whom are candidates for office.

"This is a campaign trip, and I would like to ask you for your vote for both Johnsons. And because this is the beginning of a 4-day trip that will take us down the railroad track 1,682 miles to New Orleans, I would like to tell you some of the reasons I am going.

"For me, this trip has been a source of both anxiety and anticipation--anxiety because I am not used to whistle stopping without my husband; anticipation because I feel that I am returning to familiar territory and heading into a region that I call home.

"I wanted to make this trip because I am proud of the South and I am proud that I am part of the South. I love the South. I am fond of the old customs, of keeping up with your kinfolks, all your uncles, your cousins, and your aunts, right down to the fifth cousin; of long Sunday dinners after church; of a special brand of gentility and courtesy.

"I am even more proud of the new South, the glistening new skylines of the cities, the spirit of growth, the signs of prosperity, both in the factory and on the farm. There are so many advances in the South, in its economy, in its interest in the arts, in its progress and education.

"I am proud of what the South has contributed to our national life. I am proud of the valor with which southerners have served their country in every war in which we have been engaged. Even before we were a nation, southerners were supplying learning and leadership to the task of building our great country.

"We can all recite the record of our Southern statesmen through the many years of our Nation's trials and triumphs--12 Presidents, 15 signers of the Constitution, 15 Secretaries of State, from Thomas Jefferson to Dean Rusk. Yet in recent times we recognize the strain in the South from the national life as a whole. I have shared with many of you the concern that has come with this strain. I share the irritation when unthinking people make snide jokes about the South as if the history and tradition of our region could be dismissed with ridicule.

"None of this is right. None of this is good for the future of our country. We must search for the ties that bind us together, not settle for the tensions that divide us. A great southerner, Robert E. Lee, said it best when he advised his fellow southerners, 'Abandon all these local animosities and make your sons Americans.'

"So these are 'the main reasons I wanted to make this trip. I wanted to tell you from Alexandria to New Orleans that to this President and his wife the South is a respected and valued and beloved part of this country.

"We are a Nation of laws, not men. And our greatness is our ability to adjust to the national consensus.

"The law to assure equal rights passed by Congress last July with three-fourths of the Republicans joining two-thirds of the Democrats has been received by the South for the most part in a way that is a great credit to local leadership, to mayors and ministers, to white citizens and Negro leaders, to all the Mr. and Mrs. John Citizens who live in our communities. This convinces me of something I have always believed, that there is in the Southland more love than hate.

"I have, as you have, I am sure, thrilled to see Southern legislatures put education as their top priority; to watch city councils make headway with community conflict. Certainly there are problems ahead, but my husband has always felt that problems are there to be solved, not just deplored. I think we all understand that the hard duty of assuring equal rights and constitutional rights to all Americans falls not only on the President of the United States, but upon all who love this land. I am sure we will rise to that duty.

"I asked for this assignment for many reasons. This trip takes me not only to the queen-like cities of the South, but to the small towns and rural areas. I was born in such an area and I am at home there. I believe it is well for the people of the crossroads and the back country, in the .timberlands and the mountain coves, and the sand hills where the pavement runs out and the city people don't often go, to have a personal part in this election. They all have an equal share in the Government.

"To me, as to you, the South is not a place of geography, but a place of the heart. And so it is with great joy that I undertake what is for me in every sense a journey of the heart.

"And now I yield to the speaker in my family, my husband, and the President of the United States."

During their remarks both the President and Mrs. Johnson referred to Augustus C. Johnson, Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative from Virginia's 10th District.

The text of the remarks of the President's daughter Lynda Bird, who spoke briefly, was also released.

Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks at the Station in Alexandria, Va., at the Start of Mrs. Johnson's Trip Through the South.," October 6, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=26563.
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