Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. David M. Shoup.

January 21, 1964

General and Mrs. Shoup, Secretary McNamara, Secretary Vance, ladies and gentlemen:

On a day long ago, the Lord spoke to Joshua before the Battle of Jericho and he said, "Be strong and of good courage; fear not nor be dismayed."

Today in a later day and another time these qualities of courage are displayed in a quiet man of great strength and action. We have come here to this first house of the land today to honor Gen. David M. Shoup, not because of the victories which he has brought to our country, but also for the honors that he has brought to our heritage.

He is a man of war who believes in peace. He is a man of great discipline who cares about people. He can both issue and follow commands. His career is a straight line of duty and patriotism and valor. The Medal of Honor which he wears on his breast is also fastened in his heart.

The citation for the highest award that his Nation can offer was presented for heroism at Tarawa. It reads in part, "Brilliant leadership, daring tactics, and unselfish devotion to duty." But it only begins to tell the story of David Shoup. I deeply regret his retirement from the service for he is one of an uncommon breed whose numbers are too small and whose duplication is too rare.

I would, personally, have had him continue as Commandant of the Marine Corps, but it was his view and his desire and his determination that he should step down to make way for younger men. This is typical of David Shoup. But if he thinks that he is through with Government service, he is wrong for one of the few times in his life.

I would say that he will be called to perform more delicate and important duties in the days ahead. He is a good man and an honest man and a modest man. In my judgment he is a very great man and in honoring him today I am very proud to be his President. And I am prouder still to be his fellow citizen. May God grant him the serenity he has earned. May his Nation grant him the gratitude he deserves.

And I don't think that anyone knows this, except perhaps Secretary McNamara and his family, but when my beloved predecessor was thinking of this occasion, he was reminded that General Shoup had an aversion to receiving medals. President Kennedy's remark at that time was, "Well, if I had the Congressional Medal of Honor, I don't think I would want any other medals either."

General Shoup, to you and your lovely wife and members of your family we say God bless you and thank you for having Come our way.

[At this point Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara read the citation which accompanied the award, following which General Shoup responded briefly. The President then resumed Speaking.]

Now this final word to those of you who have graced this room with your presence this morning. A few weeks ago I sat in a little room on the banks of my favorite river back in my home country and present in that meeting were the distinguished Joint Chiefs of Staff of the greatest and most powerful country in all the world. And my mind went back to many years ago when as a much younger man I had sat in hearings on the Defense Act and heard about the unification of our services. I had listened to one of the men present here this morning, Senator Symington--it is almost a phobia with him-- about the money that could be saved, if we only had unification and the strength that could be gained.

And after each member of the Joint Chiefs made his statement and the Secretary made a brief summary, I thought that in my 32 years in Washington I had never seen a finer attitude, I had never seen more unification achieved, I never believed that we had been stronger in peacetime. I thought the members of the Armed Services Committee, who have done so much to help bring that about and who have worked so diligently in the vineyard, should, too, be recognized and particularly General Shoup, because he was never one to provoke trouble. He always tried to settle it. And he wanted to be strong enough to prevent a war and wise enough to avoid one. And, up to now, we have been.

But you can be real proud of the Defense Department and all the men who serve that flag today. And I am especially proud of the part that General Shoup played in bringing about this very desirable condition.

Note: The presentation ceremony was held at 12:45 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his opening words the President referred, in addition to General and Mrs. Shoup, to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Secretary of the Army Cyrus R. Vance. General Shoup served as Commandant of the Marine Corps from September 14, 1959, to December 31, 1963.

The text of the citation follows:

"General Shoup, a brilliant career Marine and one of the great battle commanders of World War Two, performed his duties in a superb manner in one of the most responsible positions in the Department of Defense. As the Chief of a military service world renowned for its valor, he set an example of leadership of the highest order. Under his capable and forceful leadership, the United States Marine Corps has attained a level of unsurpassed combat readiness. General Shoup has demonstrated the capacity for dealing objectively without partisanship with matters of the broadest significance to our national security. Time after time he has shown that his devotion to the Government and devotion to the nation transcends strictly service interests in favor of national interests and national security. By his strong character and by his unimpeachable integrity, he has set a high standard for the Marine Corps and he has served as an inspiration to all of us who have served with him. General Shoup's outstanding contribution to the United States Government during more than 37 years of devotion to duty reflects the highest credit upon himself and upon his country."

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Presentation of the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. David M. Shoup. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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