Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Presentation of the President's Safety Awards

May 20, 1964

Mr. Secretary and ladies and gentlemen:

The winner for the best safety performance among agencies employing more than 75,000 workers is the United States Navy.

The old recruiting posters used to read, "Join the Navy and see the world." But this is the age of security in which we are now living, and you can now recruit people by telling them that the Navy is the safest place to be in the United States Government.

I had the pleasure of presenting the same award to the Navy last year, but any relationship between these two awards and the fact that the Navy is my old service is purely coincidental. In fact, Secretary Nitze, you probably won this award despite that fact.

Another surprise winner this morning is the Space Agency, proving what events have already demonstrated, that sometimes it is safer to be in orbit than to be out of it. The winner from agencies employing between 10,000 and 75,000 workers is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is significant that NASA received this award after I left the chairmanship of the National Space Council.

Finally, the winner among agencies employing less than 10,000 workers is the Department of Labor. Mr. Secretary, your Department has always had an injury frequency rate far below the Federal average. I thought perhaps that was because you had so many lawyers and economists, but I know now the winning margin of the Labor Department can be traced to the top management support that you and your colleagues have given to a very active program in the past several years.

I want to congratulate those agencies which deserve honorable mention in the safety campaign--the Air force, the federal Aviation Agency, and the Interstate Commerce Commission. I am very proud of all of you. You have exercised leadership in safeguarding the lives and welfare of the men and women who make the Government work. I want every Federal administrator to follow your example. The next time you gather for this ceremony, let us make sure the Government sets an example for industry.

In the words of William James, the deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes. They always dwell within their own borders, and from these internal enemies, civilization is always in need of being saved. The nation blessed above all nations is she in whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day by its acts without external picturesqueness.

I am delighted to have you here this morning. We will now present the awards.

[After making the presentations the President resumed speaking. ]

I want to thank the Secretary of Labor and all those who made possible this meeting this morning. I know that these awards will be an inspiration to all the members of your respective departments who participated in earning them.

I hope that those of you who were here this morning to participate enjoyed yourself, and I hope you set a good example, too. When you leave now be careful and do not slip on the grass, and let us all get back home safely.

Note: The President spoke at 12:15 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. His opening words referred to Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz, who introduced the President to the group attending the ceremony. Later he referred to Secretary of the Navy Paul H. Nitze.

The President's Safety Awards are presented annually under the sponsorship of the Federal Safety Council of the Department of Labor.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Presentation of the President's Safety Awards Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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