Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the National Medal of Science Award Ceremony.

January 13, 1964

Members of the Senate, Members of the House, distinguished, honored guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

Nothing could warm me more on this wintry day than to present the National Medal of Science. Nothing is more important than what we seek to do today and that is to give national recognition to the outstanding achievement in science and technology. Your endeavors are important not only to your country, but we think to humanity everywhere.

The complex fabric of today's society demands that we give increased attention to science and technology. You represent that attention and this meeting here represents what we like to think is national appreciation for the labor and the talent that has gone into these achievements. The wonderful scope of accomplishment which we honor today is summarized in these citations which I shall briefly read.

"To Dr. Alvarez for inspiring leadership in experimental high energy physics, for continuing development of the bubble chamber, discovery of many states of elementary particles, and contributions to national defense."

And it is a very pleasant and proud privilege of mine to present to you, Dr. Alvarez, the National Medal of Science.

I hope that all of you will have a chance to see this very attractive medal which is a symbol of great achievement.

"To Dr. Bush for distinguished achievements in electrical engineering, in the technology of computing machines, in the effective coupling of the physical and life sciences; and in mobilizing science, engineering and education in enduring ways in the service of the nation."

Dr. Bush, because of our friendship for many years, for your great achievements, it gives me great pleasure to present this to you.

"To Dr. Pierce for outstanding contributions to communications theory, electron optics and traveling wave tubes, and for the analysis leading to worldwide radio communications using artificial earth satellites."

Dr. Pierce, it is with great pleasure that I present to you the National Medal of Science.

"To Dr. van Niel for fundamental investigations of the comparative biochemistry of micro-organisms, for studies of the basic mechanisms of the photosynthesis, and for excellence as a teacher of many scientists," I present you the National Medal of Science.

And I almost feel that I deserve one for being able to read that citation!

"To Dr. Wiener for marvelously versatile contributions, profoundly original, ranging within pure and applied mathematics, and penetrating boldly into the engineering and biological sciences."

Dr. Wiener, it is a great pleasure and a great honor to present this to you.

May I congratulate all of you on the honors which have come to you this morning through your applied imagination and your diligence and humanity. And it gives us so much pleasure in this day when we find so many things wrong in the world to come here and be able to commend men who will make our life much more worth living and bring us great pleasure and great adventure and make the whole world a better place to live.

And to those distinguished Members of the Congress and the executive branch here on my left, I want to say that as a result of your courage and your vision these medals are possible and we commend you for your interest in this most important field in the national interest. And unless we are able to keep step with the developments of the modern day, we shall not have justified the faith of our forefathers.

I would like to call each of you by name, but I know that all of you would be glad to say that when I recognize the best of them all, Carl Hayden, I am speaking to each of you.

I know I speak for all of you when I say that we feel deeply in the debt of Dr. Wiesner for the contributions, the unequalled contributions, that he has made in his capacity as Scientific Adviser to the President. We express our regret that he will shortly be leaving us, but memories will linger with the great contributions that he has made to the entire field of science and, Doctor, this is kind of a salute to you, too.

Note: The ceremony was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House at 12 noon. In the President's closing remarks he referred to Senator Carl Hayden of Arizona, President pro tempore of the Senate, and Jerome B. Wiesner, Special Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Science and Technology.

Earlier on December 14, 1963, the White House announced the 1963 recipients of the National Medal of Science as follows:

Dr. Luis Walter Alvarez, Professor of Physics and Associate Director of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at the University of California; Dr. Vannevar Bush, engineer-scientist-administrator, author of the report "Science, The Endless Frontier," whose recommendations foreshadowed the establishment of the National Science Foundation and the Atomic Energy Commission; Dr. John Robinson Pierce, Executive Director, Research-Communications Principles and Communications Systems Divisions of the Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, N.J.; Dr. Cornelis Bernardus van Niel of the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University; and Dr. Norbert Wiener of the Department of Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The release stated that the awards were made on the basis of recommendations received from the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science, under the chairmanship of Dr. Frank Brink, Jr., of the Rockefeller Institute. Other members of the Committee were also listed in the release.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the National Medal of Science Award Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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