Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Ceremony in Connection With the School Savings Stamp Program.

September 20, 1966

DAVID, I want to thank you very much for that very good speech and for the nice bell you gave me. I will send it down to put in my library. I will look at it through the years and remember this occasion most fondly.

Secretary Fowler, thank you for your introduction.

Congressman Grider, Dr. Essex, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I am very proud to accept this Liberty Bell this morning. I am proud of everything that young people across the country are doing to help their country and to help their President in our savings bond program for the Nation's future.

It was nearly 50 years ago that another group of young people were working to guarantee this country's future. During the Second Liberty Bond drive in 1917, Boy Scout Troop Number 22 of Memphis, Tennessee, sold more than 2,000 bonds worth $672,100. One of those Scouts--Charles Wailes--was the top salesman in the country with $445,500 in bond sales.

Today, we are pleased to have Mr. Wailes, Mr. Mervin Rosenbush, the scoutmaster, and nine members of that Boy Scout troop with us.

Each of these men is now a respected leader in his community. Each one, I think, would tell you that his early experience with the bond program played a part in preparing him to be a responsible citizen.

Since World War II the school savings program which you represent has been giving young people a lesson in thrift. Nearly 10 billion stamps--worth $2 billion--have been saved. Millions of people who learned to save with school savings stamps are now regular buyers of savings bonds.

But this program does more than just teach us thrift.

It gives you an opportunity to protect the heritage that this Liberty Bell represents.

It gives young people--even the first-graders--a chance to participate in building their Nation.

It gives you an opportunity to show your pride--to honor your obligations--as United States citizens.

This program helps all of us who enjoy freedom at home to defend that freedom around the world.

So I hope that you and every other student in the land will keep the new savings stamp wallet card with you as a reminder of your stake in your country's strength, future, and progress in the world.

At a time of serious testing for our country, this little card, and your purchase of savings stamps and savings bonds, are a symbol of one of our Nation's greatest treasures-the volunteer spirit.

When the Boy Scouts in Memphis sold more than half a million dollars in bonds in 1917, President Wilson sent them a flag as a tribute to their volunteer spirit.

Today they will take home another flag from the White House--to replace the original one which was destroyed in a fire.

But you young folks can take home something which can never be destroyed: the sense of high achievement which comes from unselfish service to your country.

So, as a reminder of our meeting, I am asking Dr. Martin Essex, the national chairman of the school savings program, to give each of you a savings stamp album bearing one stamp--and my signature.

I hope that you will fill up this album-and many more.

I hope that you and young people all over America will support the savings bond program.

I hope that years from now, you--like these citizens from Memphis whose service began when they were little boys--can return here to this White House to remember this moment and to urge others to follow your example.

I came in here from a meeting with the Secretary of the Treasury. Between now and January, in order to meet the maturities of your Government's obligations, and in order to finance your Government, in order to pay the expenses that we will have, it is estimated that we will have to borrow from the people of this country somewhere in the neighborhood of $55 billion, to roll over, to refinance notes that are coming due, and to meet expenses in Vietnam and domestic expenses.

Now we will go to our people to borrow that money. As you can see, interest rates are going up. We have no national usury law in this country. There is no limit to what they can charge you, if we have to have the money.

But we can appeal to all of our citizens to help their country in this period. We can ask the boys and girls to buy stamps. We can ask the men and women to authorize a deduction from their payroll.

We can ask them to lend to their country, to their Government, to support the objectives of this society of ours. And to let us do the good things that we are doing to protect our freedom and our liberty, to help out with our health and our education, and to move forward at the cheapest rate possible.

And the less we borrow, why, the less strain we will have on the market.

So we are hopeful that our citizens will take some of the money that they are making, the 77 million who are working, with a personal income that is at an all-time high, and lend it to their Government.

I am asking the Secretary of the Treasury to work out a savings certificate of some kind that will bear an appropriate interest rate, for a reasonable duration of a few years, where we can go to all of the citizens of the country and say, "Buy a stamp," or, "Buy a certificate," or, "Buy a bond to help us spread so that all of us will be lenders to our Government, instead of just a few and so that we can, to some small measure, not have to pay exorbitant rates for our money."

The increase in interest rates in the last few months is something that none of us in this country can be proud of. So I have asked the Congress, early in the day, to send me the appropriations bills, tell me how much we can spend, as quickly as possible, and I will review them to see if any economies can be effected and if we can cut them any.

As soon as that is done, then we will take whatever action is indicated in order to try to see that we have a solvent Government, that we have prudent fiscal action, that we take in as much and more than we are going to spend, and that we are proud of our economic and fiscal situation.

So you young boys and girls may be leading the way this morning for the participation of 200 million people in this country in the financing of this country's obligations, its security, its problems, and its progress.

I want to express to you my gratitude and to say to you that someday f hope we'll come back here and take note of our achievements and what has been done.

I would hope that in the days to come that we could have some representative from every State that had excelled, that was number one in that State, in seeing that patriotic citizens authorized deductions under the payroll savings plan.

I would hope from each State we could have some boy or girl that led the way in the sale of stamps. I would hope from each State that we could have some representative that had been outstanding in the sale of our new certificate plan when that is placed on the market.

I noticed in our chart here that the men in our Defense Department had established a great record not only for protecting us and defending us and securing us, but they were also financing us.

The men that were out there fighting were having deductions taken from their check.

Now I don't think we ought to rely on them to do it all. I hope all of us here will do what we can. There will be some who say that we are pressuring you and threatening you and intimidating you.

We don't mean any of that. We just are appealing to you to do the very best you can during this period when your Government wants to extend the privilege to all of its citizens instead of reserving it for just a few.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:50 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening remarks he referred to David Evans, a fourth-grade student at the Walker-Jones Elementary School in Washington, D.C., who presented the President a symbolic miniature Liberty Bell. He also referred to Henry H. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury, Representative George W. Grider of Tennessee, and Dr. Martin Walker Essex, national chairman of the school savings bond program.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Ceremony in Connection With the School Savings Stamp Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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