Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks to Officials and Chambers of Commerce Representatives of the Appalachian Region of Tennessee.

October 06, 1965

Governor Ellington, and my beloved friend, Joe Evins, Mr. Johnson, distinguished guests:

Lady Bird and I are most grateful for these beautiful carvings, for this lovely rug, for these other examples of the craftsmanship and the artistry for which Tennessee, that great State, is so justly famous.

I thank you also for this very splendid scroll expressing your support for the Appalachia program.

We will treasure these presentations, we will remember them, and we have a very special place for memories of this kind. We are going to have an exhibit in the memento room at the University of Texas Library, where we will have these on display for children of Tennessee and other States who may from time to time visit that library.

I remember how much pleasure I received when President Eisenhower took me on a tour of the Oval Room--now what we call the Yellow Room--in the White House, which President Roosevelt once used for his office, and I saw all the mementos that President Eisenhower had received when he was our European Commander.

And I am keeping these pictures and mementos that are brought to me from time to time.

I want to thank you for what you have said about the Appalachia program, because, as you have presented from the people of Tennessee, your President accepts these little items in behalf of all the people of our land who have made the Appalachia plan really possible.

Now we are moving behind the planning stage.

I have just been receiving in the next room some of the cartoonists who take care of our military boys, and who are being honored today over at the Press Club. I hope that I can go over there and join them. They presented me with a cartoon, which I will put in this room with your presents. Bill, if you will get it. It is in my room in there, that chart, the cartoons they presented me.

They also presented Mrs. Johnson one, and since you referred to beautification, I thought you would enjoy this.

This is almost a prize-winning cartoon. I'm not sure that either Lady Bird or Liz Carpenter would approve of this display, but our good friend Bill Mauldin has this beautiful interstate highway. We signed a bill the other day involving billions of dollars in the years ahead that we will spend on interstate highways through the country, and here is the highway, with its very carefully designed, its winding beautification scheme here. And then, here are the signs along it: "Smoke El Smello," "Drink El Fizzo," "Eat Here," "Gas Here," "Try Here," and "Use Here."

And then, most prominent, is found one little spot left for a billboard there on the curve before you go over the divide, and that one says: "Impeach Lady Bird"!

Here is one they drew in the office this morning. They have put a Navy cap on me, that is supposed to represent all the services, though. These were done by the cartoonists who were here.

But with our Appalachia program, we have charted our course with care and with vision. We are so happy that it has attracted your cooperation, and we just must make that vision come true.

To do this, we are going to need the cooperation of your spokesmen in public life, particularly your Representatives in Congress, your able Governor, your mayors, your Senators; all of your public officials, particularly your teachers, your doctors, your nurses, and all public-spirited groups represented here today.

I want to thank the State of Tennessee for furnishing me one of the best minds, one of the most able men in this administration, and certainly one of the closest friends I have--Governor Ellington. He has been a tower of strength to me, and in the days and hours ahead when I'll be out of pocket for a little bit, I am going to rely on men like Buford Ellington to be sure that the Government continues to operate at a high state of efficiency. And to you people in Tennessee who lent him to me temporarily, I want to say thank you.

This job cannot be done, however, just by the Government alone. Only the toil and the efforts of all the people in all the 373 counties of the Appalachia area can produce the miracles that we need.

So, the future in that area of the country rests in your hands. I have seen what you can do with the great Tennessee Valley, and I have seen the pioneering leadership that the great State of Tennessee has always supplied.

You know, it's just a common garden variety expression in my State that every schoolboy has at the end of his tongue: There never would have been a Texas if there hadn't been a Tennessee. You gave us Sam Houston, you gave us Sam Rayburn, and you have given us the men who fought at the Alamo and San Jacinto. You have given us our independence, and you are still supporting us. And what you have given us today in these little tokens are representative symbols of the spirit of the people of Tennessee, and the kind of hard work that you believe in.

They will be memorials to you in our little memorial room.

Americans have always been dedicated to the proposition that tomorrow can be whatever we wish it to be, and for millions in the Appalachia area, tomorrow is going to be better.

We are planting trees by the rivers of water, and in the words of the Psalm, "They will bring forth fruit in their season."

We are going to have a big test tomorrow--a test whether the Federal Government, that spends the money in building the roads of the country, will have any right to determine what kind of places and how the scenery on those roads will be preserved.

We believe that the people are going to win.

We believe that we are going to take the necessary precautions to preserve the scenery of our land for the enjoyment of our children.

You don't know how happy I am that the people of Tennessee would come here today and share their generosity with me and their vision with me, and I am going to look forward to the day when I can come back to your great State, and Joe Evins' district, and see some of your people building and working and making the things that will make life happier for all of us.

Thank you so much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:20 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Buford Ellington, Director of the Office of Emergency Planning and former Governor of Tennessee, Representative Joe L. Evins of Tennessee, and William Johnson of Sparta, Tenn.

During his remarks the President referred to, among others, Bill D. Moyers, Special Assistant to the President, Mrs. Elizabeth S. Carpenter, Press Secretary and Staff Director for Mrs. Johnson, and Bill Mauldin, political cartoonist.

The group included representatives from the Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee, among them members of the Upper Cumberland Development Association, who came to the White House to express their appreciation for the President's interest in and action on behalf of the Appalachian region.

Shortly before the President spoke, Mr. Moyers announced that the President was about to meet with the following cartoonists who were to be honored that day at the National Press Club: Milton Caniff, George Wunder, Roy Crane, Mort Walker, and Don Sherwood. Mr. Moyers added that Mr. Mauldin would accompany the cartoonists.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks to Officials and Chambers of Commerce Representatives of the Appalachian Region of Tennessee. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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