Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Stonewall, Texas, at a Barbecue in Honor of Chancellor Erhard

December 29, 1963

[The President first offered the following invocation:]

Our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for these friends from across the waters. We thank Thee for these friends and neighbors here at home. We ask Thee to bless this food, forgive our sins, save us in Thy Kingdom, and give us a peaceful world. Amen.

Mr. Chancellor, distinguished guests, and my fellow Americans:

Last night at the ranch house, I told Dr. Erhard that I was a politician because of tragic circumstances and fiscal necessity had forced me to turn from a politician to an economist. I have spent the last month working on the Federal budget. Dr. Erhard, on the other hand, is a most distinguished economist who, for other reasons, has had to become a politician. We also have some other things in common.

I went to Washington 32 years ago as a young secretary to a Congressman from South Texas named Richard Kleberg, whose father had come here from Germany. So the Germans really launched me into American political life, and Dr. Erhard assured me that the Americans really launched Dr. Erhard into political life.

Mr. Chancellor, on the basis of the reception here today, I hope that your people will keep you busy at home because I would not like to have you as an opponent in a free election, either in Stonewall or Fredericksburg.

Mr. Chancellor, in a few moments now I am going to turn you over to the American press, and then I think you will know how the deer feel.

Others have been writing and talking about the new diplomacy. The Chancellor and I have been practicing it. We have had a wonderful 2 days together. We have formed a firm and lasting friendship personally. Our talks have been full and frank, and full of candor, and, I think, have strengthened the bonds that exist between our two great countries.

As I told the citizens of Free Berlin in 1961, and as I have pledged again during the last 2 days, we of the United States have made, and intend to keep, our promise that for the integrity of the people of Free Berlin, we will pledge our lives, our property, and our sacred honor.

Mr. Chancellor, we have experienced a season of great shock here in America, and great sorrow, but we stand before the world this morning one Nation, indivisible, under God. We work for peace as the American people have always worked. But like those pioneers who settled this land not many years ago, pioneers who came from Germany, Mr. Chancellor, came in search of peace and freedom, we of this generation trust in the Lord and keep our powder dry.

Mr. Chancellor, we shall never be too weary, never be too tired, never be too content, or never too complacent to walk another mile toward peace with honor. But neither shall we be too weak or too uncertain, or too unsure, or too reluctant to defend honor, or to search for peace wherever there is hope to find it. We are determined, Mr. Chancellor, that neither your children nor ours shall know war any more, but we are even more determined that never shall they wear the yoke of any tyranny.

So we work for a world of peace, a world of justice, a world of freedom, and we know that in this work, you of the Federal Republic of Germany are at our side, a strong nation, one of the most powerful in the world, working with us, walking with us--yes, searching with us--hoping with us, praying with us, having faith with us in our success and in our yearning for peace on earth, good will toward all men.

So, as we approach the conclusion of a most treasured 2 days together, as spokesmen for 2 great countries, may the good God above us guard our people and guide us both whatever the future may betide.

Chancellor Erhard:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen:

Before concluding this visit with the President of the United States, I would like to express my deep satisfaction and to tell you how happy I am about this meeting. We were both faced with the task of carrying on the heritage, not only of carrying it on, but of fructifying it.

I would like to stress here that in this meeting we found the same moral views, the same spirit that motivated the one and the other of us, the same political ideas, and they brought us very close together. The personal friendship that has grown yesterday and today has been a good beginning for a hopeful future for our two countries.

The President has already indicated that I am a sort of American discovery, and that is literally true, because one day after the occupation, after one of the most terrible wars that has ever come on this earth, an American officer came to my home with the very laconic words "Come on." But as I had a very good conscience, I could follow him easily, and it is since that time that I feel a deep friendship that ties me to all the American people.

There is something in the nature of man which permits immediate, basic understanding, and this has been the case in all the meetings between the American people and myself. This friendship with the American people has found its correlation today in this friendship that has developed with you, Mr. President.

I am going back to my country firmly convinced that if we have solidarity, if we stand together, if we share our fate with out friends and allies, we have not to be afraid of the future, and we have to have no fear about the preservation of freedom and peace.

Ladies and gentlemen--or may I say dear American friends--I am told that more than 100 years ago many German immigrants came to this part of the country, and that my countrymen--many of you are descendants, in fact, of those countrymen of mine--helped to develop this country. Let me tell you that I am proud and happy about this achievement, and I am proud and happy when I see that those whose forebears were Germans are the most loyal and the most faithful citizens of the United States of America.

I also know something about Texas, and I think I can say that your President, whom I so highly admire--I not only admire him as the first citizen of the United States of America, but as the great son of Texas, or let me say, as the great son of the great State of Texas. I can only confirm what the President has already said, and I am talking very seriously, that I think we have put our time to very good use.

Yesterday we worked from morning until night. This morning we have continued working, and if I am not mistaken, we are even going to continue working after this barbecue, and during those talks we have formed a judgment on the situation of the world, not only of the free world but of East-West relations as a whole, and this judgment was a common one. I can only say here that we fully share our convictions, that we see matters exactly with the same eyes, and I think the secret of this understanding is that each of us has tried to penetrate and has successfully tried to do so, into the very soul and tasks and heart and worries of the other.

I think we must not be narrow-minded, or approach matters in an egotistic way, but we have to go beyond the individual and see the interests of the community, because the common fate is as indivisible as freedom is. Freedom is indivisible in the economic, in the political, in the democratic, in the defense fields--in all the fields of life, and as freedom is indivisible, peace, too, is indivisible. There is no more worthy or higher goal to fight for than to fight for peace on earth, and in that fight we stand together without fear. We share the courage of exploring new avenues and new ideas. It is in that spirit that I shall leave this wonderful State of Texas.

I am deeply impressed with your country, but let me, in conclusion of this speech, turn to Mrs. Johnson and sing her praise, because with the homelike atmosphere which she has created, she brought about a spirit for our talks which already was a guarantee of success.

Mrs. Johnson, let me tell you I no longer feel as your guest. I feel at home with you. I am sure this is not going to be the last meeting.

We stand together, talk with each other, talk with our friends, and do everything in our power together, to form this community of ideas for all the free world, conscious of the great responsibility which lies on our shoulders, a great responsibility that goes beyond the present times and goes far into the future, and we do everything in order to be able to stand the judgment of history and to create a heritage which will insure a safe life to our children.

Thank you again, Mr. President, for this wonderful, this magnificent welcome. These days in Texas will remain unforgotten, personally and as a political event. They will continue to be effective, they will continue to reign in our hearts.

[At this point the President introduced Dr. Gerhard Schroder, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, each of whom spoke briefly. Following their remarks there was an interlude of entertainment, after which the President resumed speaking.]

I know that I speak for all of you when I express the depth of our feeling and our gratitude to this community and to Fredericksburg for the entertainment they have furnished, particularly to this great young pianist from our own State who has won such fame in all the nations of the world, Van Cliburn.

This little community has entertained heads of states, Chancellors, Presidents, and camel drivers because we do not measure men by their power or their wealth here; we measure them by their love of freedom.

Mr. Chancellor, in your country, when something is identified as old, it usually means a hundred or even thousands of years. But here in the United States it is different. An automobile is old, for instance, in 1 year; a house is old sometimes in 5 years; a man's wife's clothes are old sometimes before they are even paid for. But here in this part of our country we do have one genuinely old tradition, and that is the custom which we are keeping today of spending Sunday with our family and with our friends, and with the neighbors we love. I suspect that that is a custom brought to us from Germany, for many of the traditions which we treasure most, such as the Christmas tree, Mr. Chancellor, came from your land to our land years ago. But the finest thing that Germany has ever sent us, even including the splendid imports in which you have had a hand, is people.

My mother came from a German family named Hoffman, which left Europe in 1848. My neighbors here have the same story to tell, as you know. But throughout America, Germans and Americans of German ancestry have played a great role in our national life. Some of them are here with us today--Wernher von Braun. If America reaches the moon in this decade and is the first to be there, it will be due more to Wernher von Braun's efforts than to any other living man. Dr. von Braun is one of our most distinguished scientists in the space field.

Mr. Chancellor, as you know, it is his brother that is your permanent observer today at the United Nations.

Now, Mr. Chancellor, here in Texas we do have one tradition as old as this region, and that is the giving of hats. I am told that our hats look something like those worn by apprentice carpenters in Germany. Forty liters or ten gallons. It is a big hat, Mr. Chancellor, for a big man and for America's good friend.

Note: The President spoke in the gymnasium at Stonewall High School, Stonewall, Tex. At the close of his remarks the President presented a Texas hat to Chancellor Erhard and to many of the other guests.

The text of the remarks of Dr. Schroder and Secretary Rusk was also released.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Stonewall, Texas, at a Barbecue in Honor of Chancellor Erhard Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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