Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks on Announcing the Nominations of Anthony J. Celebrezze as Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, and of John W. Gardner as Secretary, HEW

July 27, 1965

Ladies and gentlemen:

I have a brief announcement that I think will be of interest to you. I intend to appoint the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Honorable Anthony J. Celebrezze, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

I have both a feeling of pride in Secretary Celebrezze's ascension to this high court, and a reluctance in seeing him depart the Department that he has guided so skillfully.

There is something much more powerful and remarkable in the American legend that directs a young immigrant of Italian birth who, as a baby, came to this country with his parents and, as a man, widened the dimensions of his adopted land.

As an Ohio State senator, as a fabled mayor of Cleveland--five times elected by his fellow citizens as their leader--and now as Secretary of Health, Education', and Welfare, Tony Celebrezze's first duty was always service to his neighbors.

With tolerance, with energy, with single-minded purpose, he presided over the greatest thrust for the future of American education and health that this Nation has ever known.

Today there is written, or there is about to be written into law, a plan for hospital and medical care for the elderly, and an elementary and secondary education bill that has dissolved an old and thorny debate and begins the towering task of educating our young people.

Though their families be poor or their future be bleak, this is an innovation in health that will transport the revealed genius of American doctors and scientists to those places in our land until now too far away from too many of our people. In all of these advances and adventures, Tony Celebrezze, with quiet, undisturbed, unruffled competence, played the role of a great leader and a hard worker.

So, he will go, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to his new duties with the gratitude of every child who now can learn but who might not have, of every older person who now can find care but who might not have, and of every man and woman who now survives cancer, heart disease, and stroke, but who might not have.

I am prepared today to announce to you Secretary Celebrezze's successor. I shall send to the Senate today, to become the new Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the name of John W. Gardner.

He is regarded by his peers as one of the most knowledgeable men in the field of United States education in this country. For 10 years he has been the president of the Carnegie Corporation. He was born in Los Angeles, California. He's a holder of degrees from Stanford University and the University of California. He has been all of his adult life an explorer in the search for excellence.

So, as we near the outer edges of this century, the loss of quality and the discovery of excellence become the searing issues of the times in which we live. After a great deal of study and deliberation, I know of no one who is better suited by temperament, by experience, by commonsense intellectualism to confront these issues and to bend them to the national desire.

He is a Ph.D.; he's an ex-Marine; he's a former outstanding intelligence officer; he's a distinguished author and a Republican-though not necessarily in this order of importance or proportion of significance.

He was the leader of the President's special Task Force on Education last year that probed the Nation's need with a bold spirit of innovation and imagination. He helped to plant the seedbed of the educational harvest that has been produced by the 89th Congress.

I have just concluded a meeting with the leaders of that Congress and received their views and recommendations and report. Unless I miss my mark, this session of the Congress will go down in the history of this country as the best congress ever assembled from the standpoint of production, from the standpoint of understanding and compassion of our people, and from the standpoint of achievement. And that applies to members of both parties and to the entire Congress.

It has been successful because of the spadework and the thinking and the sacrifice of men like Mr. Gardner, and those thinkers and doers who had on the drawing boards months ahead of the assemblage of Congress the ideas and the programs that the Congress has evolved.

Just last week, Mr. Gardner was both the inspirer and the steward of a White House Conference on Education, which peered into the future and which found it full of promise and challenge.

Once he wrote in his excellent book on excellence these words:

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

Any man who can believe that and write it is the kind of man who can and ought to become the President's leader of the fastest growing Department and the most comprehensive services in this Government.

If the Senate is willing, Mr. Gardner will shortly undertake his duties and start administering the program that this good Congress has, or is enacting, and will also have a farsighted, 20th century plan for the Congress that is to come in January.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:30 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. During his remarks he quoted from "Self Renewal; the Individual and the Innovative Society" by John W. Gardner (New York: Harper and Row, 1964).

See also Items 389, 433.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks on Announcing the Nominations of Anthony J. Celebrezze as Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, and of John W. Gardner as Secretary, HEW Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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