Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Annual Swedish Day Picnic, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis

June 28, 1964

Senator McCarthy, Governor Rolvaag, Senator Humphrey, Members of the Congress, the chairman of today's event, Mr. Johnson, and all the other Johnsons in the crowd, ladies and gentlemen:

The Bible counsels us: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . a time of war and a time of peace."

So I come today to speak to you in the hope that, after decades of war and threats of war, we may be nearing a time of peace.

Today, as always, if a nation is to keep its freedom it must be prepared to risk war. When necessary, we will take that risk. But as long as I am President, I will spare neither my office nor myself in the quest for peace.

That peace is much more than the absence of war. In fact, peace is much the same thing in our world community as it is here in your community, or in the small community of Johnson City, Tex, where I grew up.

If, in your town, every morning brings fear that the serenity of the streets will be shattered by the sounds of violence, then there is no peace.

If one man can compel others, unjustly and unlawfully, to do what he commands them to do, then your community is not a place of peace.

If we have neither the will nor a way to settle disputes among neighbors without force and violence, then none of us can live in peace.

If we do not work together to help others fulfill their fair desires, then peace is insecure. For in a community, as in the world, if the strong and the wealthy ignore 'the needs of the poor and the oppressed, frustrations will result in force.

Peace, therefore, is a world where no nation fears another, or no nation can force another to follow its command. It is a world where differences are solved without destruction, and common effort is directed at common problems.

Such a peace will not come by a single act ' or a single moment.

It will take decades and generations of persistent and patient effort. That great son of Sweden, Dag Hammarskjold, once said: "The qualities it requires are just those which I feel we all need today--perseverance and patience, a firm grip on realities, careful but imaginative planning, a clear awareness of the dangers--but also of the fact that fate is what we make it .... "

With these qualities as our foundation, we follow several goals to the single goal of peace.

And what are those goals?

First is restraint in the use of power.

We must be, and we are, strong enough to protect ourselves and our allies. But it was a great historian who reminded us that: "No aspect of power more impresses men than its exercise with restraint."

We do not advance the cause of freedom by calling on the full might of our military to solve every problem. We won a great victory in Cuba, because we stood there for many days, firm without using force. In Viet-Nam we are engaged in a brutal and a bitter struggle trying to help a friend. There, too, we will stand firm to help maintain their own freedom, and to give them counsel and advice and help as necessary.

Second is the search for practical solutions to particular problems.

Agreements will not flow from a sudden trust among nations. Trust comes from a slow series of agreements. Each agreement must be fashioned as the products of your famous craftsmanship are fashioned, with attention to detail, with practical skills, with faith in the importance of the result.

And so, even while we are caught in conflict in one part of the world, we labor to build the structure of agreement which can bring peace to all of the rest of the world.

In this way we have signed a treaty already ending nuclear tests in the atmosphere. Already we have cut back our production of atomic fuel and weapons. Already we have established a "hot-line" between Washington and Moscow. Already we are meeting with the Soviets to pool our efforts in making fresh water from the oceans.

These agreements, by themselves, have not ended tensions or they have not ended war. But because of them we have moved much closer to peace.

And the third point that I want to bring up is respect for the rights and the fears of others.

We can never compromise the cause of freedom. But as we work in our world community we must always remember that differences with others do not always flow from a desire for domination. They can come from honest clash of honest beliefs or goals. And in such cases our strength does not entitle us to impose our interest. Rather, our desire for peace compels us to seek just compromise.

And we must also recognize that although this is very hard to do, that other nations may honestly fear our intentions or the intentions of our allies. There is no need for such fear. For we in America seek neither dominion or conquest. But where it exists, we must work to dispel that fear.

The fourth point I want to make is cooperation in solving the problems which are greater than immediate conflicts.

Most of our neighbors in the world live in the midst of hunger and poverty. Most of our neighbors live in the midst of disease and ignorance.

We are proud of the fact, here in America, that across the world American workers and American food and American capital are building industry, and are expanding farms, are educating the young and are caring for the sick, and are feeding the hungry.

We will continue to seek such cooperation. No peace and no power is strong enough to stand for long against the restless discontent of millions who are without hope. For peace to last, all must have a stake in its benefits.

Fifth, is the ability to adjust disputes without the use of force. It is, in short, the pursuit of justice.

We can find guidance here in our own country's historic pledge to the rule of law. That is a pledge to abide by the law and to accept its settlements. It is a pledge to submit to courts and to be satisfied by court decisions. It is a pledge to respect and uphold and always obey the law of the land. For if any take grievances and disputes into their own hands, the safety and the freedom of all is in peril. "Due process" is the safeguard of our civilization.

As a President of the United States and as an individual citizen, I stand totally committed to the integrity of justice and the enforcement of the law. But legal government depends upon law-loving and law-abiding citizens.

Today, the key to peace in our own land is obedience to the great moral command that no man should deny to another the liberties the Constitution creates, as the law defines those liberties. And it rests on the even more hallowed rule that, whatever our disagreements, we treat others with the peaceful respect that we reserve and desire for ourselves.

So, too, we seek a world community in which answers can win acceptance without the use of force. For this purpose, all the machinery of international justice is useless unless it is infused with the good faith of nations.

On a worldwide basis, we place much hope in the United Nations.

Twenty years after World War I the League of Nations was discredited. Twenty years after World War II the United Nations is, thank God, a stronger force for peace than ever before. Our support, the steadfast support of nations like Sweden, has made this possible.

And let any of those who might choose to criticize the United Nations always remember that where the United Nations has gone, from Iran to the Congo, the Communists have not conquered. This is not because the United Nations supports our cause or because it exists just to help us against our enemies. It is because the United Nations is on the side of national independence, on the side of peaceful justice, of self-determination, of human freedom, and that is the side that we are on, too.

These are the several paths that we take to peace.

At times in the solitude of my office, peace seems discouragingly distant. My days are often filled with crisis and conflict.

Yet each time that I come here among the people of my country I feel new hope and renewed faith. There was a legendary figure who, each time his feet touched the earth, redoubled his strength. Your friendship and your warmth and your wishes are equally the source of my strength.

I know that all the power of my great office will never bring peace unless you want it, unless you are willing to work and fight and die for it. For with you, not me--not even the Members of your great delegation in the Congress, and I should say now that no State in the Union has a right to be prouder of their Senators or their Congressmen than the great State of Minnesota-and in the Senate with Hubert Humphrey and Gene McCarthy--no State has better or more gifted representation.

As President and as leader of your country, I want to thank you for those Congressmen, too, and I want to express the hope that we will not only have all those 4 Democratic Congressmen back next time, but you will give us some additions to help us along the way. I am proud of your progressive, young, great Governor, my old longtime friend Governor Rolvaag.

I want to remind you finally, as I finish, that it is with the people and not with their leaders that the final question whether the liberties and the life of this land shall be "preserved to the latest generations."

If you can do this, if you do do this, then our children's children will gladly remember us in the ancient phrase: "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God."

Please take care of things out here in Minnesota for Gene McCarthy so he can help me take care of things in the Nation.

Note: The President spoke at a celebration in Minnehaha Park sponsored by Swedish-American fraternal orders and choral groups of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In his opening words he referred to Senator Eugene J. McCarthy, Governor Karl F. Rolvaag, and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, all of Minnesota, and Iner Johnson, chairman of the Svenskarnas Dag (Swedish Day) celebration.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Annual Swedish Day Picnic, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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