Dr. Morton, General Mather, Mrs. Hobby, Mr. Bingham, Mr. Smith, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls:
I am glad to be able to join you here today, not only to mark the founding of a new college, not only to cheer the progress of this city and this great State, but to join with you in helping to celebrate the expansion that is taking place in America.
In 1900 we had eight junior colleges in the United States. In 1964 we had 694.
As I speak here this morning we have 925. That is an increase of 231 in 3 years.
While others have been complaining and agonizing, worrying, being frustrated, and criticizing, we have been building 231 educational institutions that will take care of our boys and girls.
In 1948 when I visited Killeen and Temple, we talked, worked, and planned for the day when all of our youngsters could get all the education they could take.
I am happy to say that although it took us from 1948 to 1968, in 1968 we have I million more boys and girls in the colleges and universities of this land because of the Federal programs that we have put in between 1948 and 1968, most of which have been in the last 3 or 4 years.
Now, this dedication means growth and it means progress for all of America. It tells us something important about the real purpose of democracy.
That purpose of democracy is fulfillment for every individual. It illustrates what makes America different from other lands. What does make America different from other lands? Opportunity, abundance of opportunity.
It also reveals some things about where America has been, and where America is going.
In 1884 Killeen was a 2-year-old village which boasted two dress factories, one cotton gin, and a population a little less than Johnson City--a population of 350.
As we meet here this morning, Killeen can claim more than 500 thriving businesses, one of the world's most powerful major defense installations, and more than 30,000 people.
The city has more than tripled its growth in 20 years. That growth reflects our whole Nation's restlessness; our whole Nation's hope; our whole Nation's progress.
A little more than a century ago this was great frontier country. Families came here in the buckboards and covered wagons from Virginia, Georgia, and Kentucky to settle this land.
My grandfather drove his longhorns across this prairie on his way to Abilene, Kansas. We came to found towns, and to write laws, and to establish schools and churches. I am so happy to observe that my father, decades ago, sat with Oveta's father in writing some of the early legislation for what was then almost just a frontier.
Now, what they began has not yet ended. Those Americans gave really a new meaning to the word "frontier."
In other countries, that word had meant a barrier. "Frontier" had meant a stopping place. But to America it meant, and still means, a place to be discovered, a place to be tamed, a place to be settled, a place--if you please--of American opportunity.
Today there is no Louisiana Territory to be purchased. There is no new wilderness for us to conquer. There is no new land left for us to settle. But still America moves on.
America expands--not outward but upward.
I can see some of the men here in front of me this morning--Mr. Smith, Mr. Mather, Mr. Province, and others--who have been moving America forward, who have been moving it upward.
Today we have set our eyes on new territory-the territory of human promise, for all of central Texas, and for all of the Nation--the territory of bettering peoples' lives in all of our areas, bettering humanity.
That is the thing we all ought to work toward. That is the purpose and the objective we all ought to have.
Every person here should ask himself and herself today: What am I doing to better humanity?
In the time allotted me, what will I have done to better humanity?
When a Teacher Corps volunteer brings help and learning to a mountain child--we will say in Tennessee or North Carolina-we add something to that new land.
When a Head Start teacher in California offers hope and help to a migrant child, this Nation grows.
Speaking of help, our program has been health, education, conservation, and moving forward.
I am happy to say that the death rate of newborn children--infants--declined more than 5 percent this last year.
Now, can there be anything better than saving a little child's life? Can there be any more worthy purpose?
When a new college arises--a junior college in a Texas city--the whole Nation expands.
When a new national effort is launched to teach men skills or to cure men's sickness, America grows.
Something is happening which is as exciting--even more exciting--than the winning of the West.
Three years ago there was no Medicare in the United States. This morning 20 million older citizens have hospital insurance. Eighteen million have help with their medical bills under medical care.
That is what we have been doing.
Three years ago there was a deadlock on Federal aid to education. Federal aid was an ugly word. We broke that deadlock in 1965 with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
We passed a bill in the Senate yesterday-and sent it to conference--giving us a new lease on life. Last year that bill helped 9 million poor children get a better start in school.
What is there that you can do, even the doubters and the complainers, that could give any of us more satisfaction than helping 9 million poor children get a better start in school?
Ask yourself what have you done in these fields and what are you going to do.
When the roll is called up yonder, where are you going to be?
In the past 3 years we have helped to build facilities for more than 1.5 million college and university students. What is there that you can do that is better than putting a roof, an educational roof, over the heads of the boys and girls who want to go to college in this country?
From the time a child discovers America, that doting mother looks into the little one's eyes and says to herself, "If I can only get him a college education."
Well, together, we in Killeen and we in the United States--notwithstanding the complainers, the critics, and the doubters--are getting the schools built. We are getting the teachers for elementary, and from Head Start to adult education.
We have them in Head Start at four and five, and we have them in adult education at 74 and 75.
Yet still there are those who want to divert us, who want to criticize us, who want to oppose this kind of growth.
Just as there were a century ago, there are many who are afraid to take the journey.
There are some who tell us in the board room resolutions that it is too expensive. There are some who say that it is too dangerous, that the effort cannot succeed.
Well, that reminds me of the old fellow at Fredericksburg when we started the train up there. He had preached against it. He discouraged it. He wouldn't subscribe to it. He wouldn't even be on the committee promoting it. But when the train finally came and we had the queen and she cut the ribbon, and the steam started coming out, the train started moving from the hill country into San Antonio.
While they were cutting the ribbon, he was in the back yakking that we will never get the train started.
And when she pulled out and the steam was over his head and drowning him out with the smoke, he said, "Well, they will never get her stopped."
I imagine Killeen has some like that today. I know that Texas has some like that today. I hear voices from all over the Nation like that today.
I believe--I can't prove it but we may have to do that--those complainers, those doubters, those who are afraid to take the journey in this frontier country are still in the minority.
So I ask you to join us. Come and let us reason with those Americans. Those of us who believe in progress, let us try to convince the doubters.
I think the time is here to make it clear that we must make this journey. If we are rich enough, then we must care enough. We must be ready to make the sacrifices it requires.
In 1933 our gross national product was less than $100 billion. It wavered to less than half of that for a period.
Today and tomorrow that gross national product is hitting $800 billion, and it may go up to $850 billion.
So we are rich enough.
Now the big question is: With your stomachs full, has it pressed your heart out of position where you no longer care? If you do care, then let us do something about it.
Are there those who think this journey toward human fulfillment, this journey toward bettering humanity, is too expensive?
Well, these men who wear the uniform don't think it is too expensive. They love liberty and they love freedom enough that they are ready to die to preserve it.
These boys over here at A & M don't think that it ought to go unnoticed. It has gone unnoticed but I heard on a local radio broadcast that they had voted to give blood donations to support their brothers who are preserving liberty and who have carried Old Glory to all corners of the earth and brought it back without a stain on it.
So, let us show by our actions that progress and movement forward in America is not too expensive. What is expensive is sickness, bigotry, ignorance, discrimination, and crime. That is what costs too much.
As that great leader Adlai Stevenson once said, "We Americans must resist temptation to be 'penny-wise and people foolish.'"
It is not action but it is inaction that costs too much.
Are there those who really believe that this journey cannot succeed?
Well, let them consider just one effort-and that is our campaign to give every young person in America---that is the first goal of the Great Society--give every boy and girl, whether born of rich or poor parents, all the education that he or she seeks and can take.
In the past 6 years the number of young people going to college from poor homes has risen--thank God--by more than 12 percent.
In those years, the number of high school dropouts--thank God--between 16 and 24, has dropped from 25 to only 18 percent.
Colleges like this one being established and built here are being built throughout this Nation at the rate of one every week.
You don't like that? You are against that? You would rather fight it than teach it up and learn it?
Two years ago we were helping 500,000 young people go to college. Next year that number rises not to 500,000 but to 1,200,000.
Now, those are facts. They are not numbers and they are not slogans. They are not snow or brainwash or anything else. They are facts. And more than facts they are victories for bettering humanity. They are victories for every American home and for all the American people.
Two years ago we established a program called Upward Bound. Upward Bound was a program that would rescue dropouts and would boost them toward college.
It was almost patterned after an experience I had in 1924 when I went to California after I dropped out, to seek my fortune. The most beautiful sight these eyes ever beheld was the sight of my old mother's quilt, that grandma had made for us, when I got back home.
My father, I felt when I left, was too inattentive and not very wise in the ways of the world. I was really amazed how much he had learned while I was gone.
Two years ago that program of Upward Bound was an experiment. Today that program is a success.
This year, 23,000 poor boys and girls took summer classes on college campuses. Six thousand of them--83 percent of those who graduated--have gone on to higher education.
One boy from Missouri told this story: "Before I went out there to Upward Bound I was a corner boy .... I was with the wrong bunch all the time. We stayed up late doing all sorts of no-good things .... But I think I am too much now to hang around on the corner .... I know my life is worth more than how they taught me to lead it."
I think he is right. And I think we were all right to help that kid.
A young boy in Kentucky, the son of a disabled father, was one of eight children, with a family income of less than $3,000 a year. He made failing grades in high school before Upward Bound gave him hope. In his senior year he raised his grades drastically-and now he is today a full-time college student.
Multiply these stories by the thousands, and then I think you will know why I am optimistic about America; why I cannot share the gloom of those who believe that our problems are too big to solve and our pocketbook is too small to help them.
I reject that notion, not because I am unaware of our problems, but because I know our power in America to hold to a good purpose. I know the power we have to reach a high goal.
History does not long remember the men who voted down the bond issues to build schools or to help little children.
The War on Poverty is going to succeed-if we just stay the course.
Our quest for educational excellence will succeed--if we only stay the course.
Our pursuit of 1,000 essential goals will succeed--if we only stay the course.
I believe that our children are going to remember that just as our country lived through a great age of exploration in the last century, we have entered in this century another age. It will be known and it will be remembered--I hope you are remembered with it--as the age of advancement, as the era of education.
This college is proof of that. The headlines may seldom tell the story--but history is going to tell it. It is not going to deal at length or too generously with those of little faith.
These years, like that earlier age of growth, are noisy today with the sound of controversy. But that must never daunt us--any more than it daunted our daddies who settled here yesterday and built a new world, a Killeen, out of this wilderness.
So we come here today to dedicate this college--to dedicate it forever to the service of the people, and to the progress of America.
We have not just begun to fight. We have just begun to build. We are not going to build as fast as some would like, but we are not going to retreat.
With God's help and with your support, America is going to move forward to educate, to bring peace to the world, to keep aggression from enslaving us, to educate our children, to make our bodies healthier, to give us clean air to breathe, pure water to drink, wholesome meat to eat, and all of those things that make for greatness--a great people in a great society, in a great world.