Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in San Antonio at a Reception Honoring Representative Henry Gonzalez.

November 21, 1965

Congressman Gonzalez, Senator Yarborough, Mr. Cantinflas, distinguished guests, ladies an d gentlemen:

Thirty-one years ago last week I came to this beautiful city of San Antonio in an attempt--and it was a successful attempt--to find a bride. We were married here, with the help of Postmaster Dan Quill, in the Episcopal Church.

Four years ago, with the help of "Pepe," we came here to San Antonio to campaign for Henry Gonzalez for the United States Congress.

For me, that election had a very special meaning. That meaning was the love and the respect that I had developed over many years for Americans of Mexican descent.

As a young teacher in a Mexican school in Cotulla I came to know what it meant to many of your children not only to be poor, but to be poor without hope.

As a young assistant to the Congressman from this very district, I came to know your dreams and your ambitions.

As a State Director of the National Youth Administration during the great depression, I came to know your dignity and your dogged determination.

As a Congressman for 12 years, and later as a Senator for 12 years, I came to know your great loyalty.

And that is why I had such a very special interest in your election 4 years ago--and that is why I have come back here to San Antonio today. This is part of my home. You are part of my people. You have never, never deserted me throughout my long career in public life--and that has been for more than 34 years--and I hope that it can always be said that I never deserted you.

With us on that memorable day here in this same place in November 1961, was a very old and very dear friend of mine and a good friend of yours: Cantinflas. He spent the weekend with me and in my home last night, and he came here today to join us again in this reunion. All the world knows Cantinflas as one of the greatest and one of the best loved comedians of all times. But we know him best as a man whose heart always goes out to his fellow man. We know him as a man who believes in human dignity. We know him as a man who has done more to further good relations between the United States and our neighbor to the south, Mexico, than most professional statesmen have done.

But we came here today for another purpose. Henry Gonzalez is a man of the people who is devoting his life to the cause of people. I can pay him no higher tribute than that.

For to me, that is what America is all about.

America's greatness is guaranteeing to every child all the education that he or she can take.

America's greatness is bringing the miracle of modern medicine to every humble citizen of this land.

America's greatness is equality of race, respect of religion, and blindness of color.

America's greatness is food for hungry people.

America's greatness is the helping hand to the child of the slum.

America's greatness is training for the unemployed.

America's greatness is willingness to lend a helping hand to our neighbors from other lands who seek freedom here in our shores.

And in the search for that greatness, we search also for a real and lasting peace. We want to help build a world where reason will replace rockets. We want to build a world where trust will replace terror.

All these goals are possible. They are possible because we believe in them. And if we believe in them, and we unite ourselves, then we can do them.

And that is what American greatness means to me. And that is what it means to this great Congressman, Henry B. Gonzalez.

There is no man in the House of Representatives who has supported your people and your President more loyally than your Congressman, Henry B. Gonzalez.

And I can take great pride in saying the same thing: There is no man in the United States Senate that has supported the program of the people of this country or the program of the President of this country more than the senior Senator from Texas, your able Senator and my friend, Ralph Yarborough.

By sending Henry Gonzalez to the Congress to speak your voice and to vote your purpose, you have helped to share and to shape America's greatness. For a long time I have felt deeply in the debt of the good people of San Antonio and Bexar County, and I came here this afternoon to again express to you the appreciation and the gratitude that I feel for your loyalty and for your friendship and for your patriotism throughout the years.

To those of you who would feel at home if I said, Buenas tardes, mis amigos, I would say this, that I know that you are glad that you are American citizens, but you are also, and you can always be very proud that you have Mexican blood in your veins.

It was 2 years ago this afternoon that we came here to this friendly city with the great President of the United States, our late beloved leader, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. You met him with cordiality and with hospitality. You opened your arms to him, and you received him, not knowing that just one day removed, he would no longer be with us.

But tomorrow at noon, we will go to a little Catholic church in Fredericksburg where we will be led by the priest and by ministers of other denominations in a memorial church service, a memorial to our late beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

We would like to ask each of you that might care to, to join us in that service tomorrow, if you have the time and you feel that you could come. We would be glad to have you in the Catholic Church at Fredericksburg.

This afternoon though, before closing, I think that each of you would want to join with all of us in standing and bowing our heads in respect and in memory to our great leader, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was here with us in San Antonio 2 years ago today.

Note: The President spoke at 4 p.m. at the Las Palmas Shopping Center in San Antonio, Tex. In his opening words he referred to Representative Henry B. Gonzalez of Texas, Senator Ralph Yaro borough of Texas, and Cantinflas (Mario Moreno), Mexican comedian and star of the film "Pepe."

Some 30,000 persons attended the reception which marked the fourth anniversary of the special election which sent Representative Gonzalez to Congress.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in San Antonio at a Reception Honoring Representative Henry Gonzalez. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives