Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Civic Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska

November 02, 1966

Governor Egan, Senators Bartlett and Gruening, Secretary Rusk, my old friend Ralph Rivers, Secretary Wade, Acting Mayor Hostetler, my fellow Americans, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls:

I am on American soil again, for the first time in 17 days. And I am telling you it is a mighty good feeling.

We have flown 28,000 miles since the 17th of October, and we have another 3,500 miles to go today and another speech coming up this evening. We have touched the perimeter of the Pacific at all points:

--at Hawaii in the east;

--at New Zealand and Australia in the south;

--at Malaysia in the west; and now

--at Alaska in the north.

We have seen the beaches of Samoa and the pastures of New Zealand and the ranches of Australia that are so much like the American West that we love. We have been to the rice paddies of Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand, the hills of Korea, the forests of Malaysia--and now we have seen the snow and the mountains of Alaska.

We have been cooled by the ocean breezes and warmed by the tropical sun. And now we feel what you probably call up here just a nip of autumn.

We have talked of war and peace with the leaders of the world--of hunger and of hope. We met with the leaders of many nations that are directly helping us to resist Communist aggression and bring peace to Vietnam. We met with the American boys at Cam Ranh Bay, who are led so ably by General Westmoreland. And I want the mother of every American man there to know what General Westmoreland told me personally face to face--that no Commander in Chief in the history of the American Nation ever had a better equipped, a more competent, or a more devoted Armed Forces than you have now.

We saw great cities and small villages. We saw leaders and diplomats from many countries, soldiers in many uniforms, and-most important--millions of just ordinary men and women who trust America and who really think that they can believe our word and that they can count on us as friends.

And now we are coming to the end of our journey. We are winding our way back to Washington.

It has been the most rewarding and the most thrilling and the most encouraging journey of my entire life. I believe it may also have been the most important and the the most historic.

When I left, Washington, I said that I expected no miracles to emerge from the Manila Conference. Each of the nations invited to Manila had long since committed itself to seeking an early and an honorable end to the war. None of them had demanded the unconditional surrender of the North--as President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill did in World War II. None of them had laid down any impossible conditions for a peaceful settlement. We had repeated again and again and again that we would be glad to go any place, talk to anyone, any time, without any preconditions. Yet all we have ever heard from the other side is that they renew their voice of hostility.

Until that voice changes--until the Communists realize that they are not going to win this war and they cannot win this war-we think there will be no miracle in Vietnam.

Yet if a miracle did not occur at the Manila Conference, a meeting of mind and spirit did take place--and that may have had the greatest significance for all the nations of Asia and the Pacific.

For there, the leaders of seven very different and very proud nations talked for days with a candor, and with an understanding, and with a common sense of purpose. We spoke of the Pacific community of tomorrow. We acknowledged that we are neighbors and that we are partners, that each of us has a stake--and a very important one--in the peaceful and democratic development of this great part of the world.

That partnership will endure just as long as the leaders who met at Manila want it to and who work and try to make it do. And I think it will endure long after those of us who met there have passed from the scene. It is permanent, I think, because it is built on a foundation of historic necessity.

We spoke of our resolve in Manila to seek four goals of freedom in Asia and the Pacific-freedom

--to resist aggression so we won't be swallowed up--not let the big ones eat the little ones;

--to conquer hunger and illiteracy and disease, the ancient enemies of mankind;

--to build a region of security and order and progress; and

--to seek reconciliation and peace throughout Asia and the Pacific.

I saw men and nations fulfilling these goals throughout our long journey.

You all know that Communist aggressors tried to impose their will for many years now throughout the Pacific and Asia.

They tried to impose the Communist will in the Philippines--and they failed.

They tried to impose their will on Malaya-and they failed.

They tried to impose their will on the great little Republic of Korea--and they failed.

And now openly and without provocation the Communists are trying to impose their will on the people of South Vietnam. Once again--you can be sure of this--the Communists are going to fail in Vietnam!

In each of the countries that Mrs. Johnson and I visited, we found men and women who were working to build a society of free people. They are on the high road to success.

In Vietnam we are fighting at this very moment for the goals of freedom that we adopted at Manila. Those goals are what the struggle there in South Vietnam is really all about: whether these people have the right to self-determination, whether they can select the leaders of their own choice, or whether they can have them imposed by someone else.

They are the North Star, really, of our common policy. The Communists would deny those goals that we enumerated in Manila. We would fulfill them.

I am glad that I have ended my Pacific journey here in this wonderful new State of Alaska. I passed through Hawaii on the way out and we had a wonderful reception there, a very warm one, full of hospitality, and we treasured every moment that we spent in Hawaii.

And now we were allowed to come here and stay all night with you in Alaska on our way back. That fact speaks for the future, I think, of this part of the country, because you really are the bridge of this new partnership that I am talking about. You are on the rim of a new era. As the Pacific prospers and grows, Alaska, and Portland and Seattle and San Francisco and Los Angeles and Honolulu and all of these great Pacific areas--they are going to grow and prosper, and have peace, too.

You know something of the meaning of aggression. I was here with Senator Magnuson shortly after we had had a visit from the Japs in the early days of 1942. If we are going to have visits from any aggressors or any enemies I would rather have that aggression take place out 10,000 miles from here than take place here in Anchorage.

In 1942 Dutch Harbor was the target of an aggressor's bombs. The Japanese came there and they did great damage. Their troops landed in the Aleutian Islands. When I first came here it was only a few days after that aggressor had struck. So I think you people in Alaska know--as probably no other State in the Union except Hawaii knows--why it is important to stop a would-be conqueror in his tracks.

I think I ought to tell you, too, in conclusion, that I am very glad to be back here visiting again in a State that I helped to bring into being. For a long time there were rumors throughout the land that I did not want to see Texas drop to number two in size and I was resisting the admission of Alaska. Well, these rumors were untrue. I knew that Texas would still be the largest State in the Union in winter, when Alaska froze and contracted.

I intend, in a few minutes, to sign two bills that are very important to Alaska--to sign them here in this wonderful hotel in this great city of Anchorage.

One of them will protect and conserve the North Pacific fur seals.

The second is the Fish Protein Concentrate Act, which will mean so much to your people.

It is possible for me to sign this legislation because of the fine work done by the fine Congress, the 89th Congress. I think it is the Great Congress. I think your grandchildren will read in their history books that the 89th Congress passed more legislation for the greatest good for the greatest number than any Congress in the history of this Nation.

You hear enough of the bad, you read enough of the bad, and you see enough of the bad on television, that you ought to know something about the good. And there are no three Members of that Congress anywhere that have done more to help me pass legislation in behalf of all of the people than your great and your good Senators Bob Bartlett and Ernest Gruening and your wonderful Congressman Ralph Rivers.

I want to say, finally, that that bonfire last night was a welcoming sight. It said: "You are home," and I really believed it.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:45 a.m. in the Ballroom of the Anchorage Westward Hotel at Anchorage, Alaska. In his opening words he referred to Governor William A. Egan, Senator E. L. Bartlett, and Senator Ernest Gruening, all of Alaska, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Representative Ralph J. Rivers of Alaska, Hugh J. Wade, the Secretary of State of Alaska, and C. A. Hostetler; Acting Mayor and member of the City Council of Anchorage. Later the President referred to Gen. William C. Westmoreland, Commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Civic Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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