Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Rollout Ceremony for the C-5A Cargo Plane, Marietta, Georgia.

March 02, 1968

Thank you very much, Mr. Haughton. Governor Maddox, Secretary Brown, General McConnell, my dear, beloved former Chairman, Carl Vinson, Chairman Rivers, Senator Talmadge, Senator Monroney, all distinguished Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

I think that perhaps most of you have heard the story of the man who built a big boat in his basement--and then couldn't get it out. That didn't happen in Georgia.

I believe someone has measured those doors. This may sound strange, and ordinarily I wouldn't take your time to make such an observation. I wouldn't be worrying about it, but after I went over to that building--that Carl Vinson, Mendel Rivers, and Dick Russell planned--Friday to tell Secretary McNamara goodby and spent 13 minutes in an elevator--and really never did get to the top--I want to be sure that the logistics have been worked out.

It was about 23 years ago this very month, less than 100 miles from where we are standing today, an American President wrote the last words of his life--for a speech that he never got to deliver. His words carried counsel for his country and it was just emerging from world war and surveying its new obligations.

Franklin Roosevelt's final paper--written at Warm Springs, Georgia--contains this great message that we could all well afford to remember: "... great power," he said, "involves great responsibility."

In the troubled time since those days, America has learned much about strength and a great deal about responsibility.

We have come here this morning for the rollout of a new era in our Nation's strength.

The exciting adventure which produced this plane began just a few years ago.

America was then developing its capacity to meet any danger that threatened it. One critical element was very much missing. Our country just could not move a fighting force quickly over long distances.

Now, with this plane, this crucial need is met.

The C-5A Galaxy can only be described in most extraordinary terms:

--It is the biggest aircraft in all the world. Its cargo floor alone is longer than the first flight that was made by the Wright Brothers.

--Its jet engine is twice as powerful as any that is now in existence.

--It can do three times the work of the biggest cargo plane that the United States now has. It cuts operating expenses almost in half.

--It can span the Pacific, from California to Japan, in one single jump.

But most important of all: For the first time, our fighting men will be able to travel with their equipment to any spot on the globe where we might be forced to stand-and they will travel rapidly and efficiently. Today it would take 88 cargo planes to move an infantry brigade from Hawaii to Vietnam. Their heaviest equipment would have to go by water.

Now, that entire operation that would formerly take 88 cargo planes and the equipment going by water can be handled by just 20 of these new aircraft.

So it is much more than a rollout of a great aircraft that you are seeing here today. We are observing a long leap forward in the effective military might of America.

And on such an occasion it is well to look back over the development of our awesome strength and the responsibility that that strength has placed upon all of us.

The guns of World War II had hardly silenced when this country made the historic commitment that binds us today.

In the wake of war, we were the only real effective force left in the free world. The road that we set out to travel was without precedent or parallel in all our history. Before then, military strength had always cleared a path to empire.

We pledged our strength to work with others to deter aggression and to help build the institutions of peace.

Our strength became a shield behind which men could find their way back to stability--and some could begin the long work of freedom and justice for their people.

The road has not been an easy one for America.

The exercise of strength has brought anguish to the Nation when her sons have had to fight in distant places, as many are fighting today.

And no sons of any State in the Union give a finer account of themselves than the sons of Georgia, wherever they are stationed.

But looking back over the long road that we have come, we can ask: What other road could America have traveled? How would history judge us if we sat by and let freedom die because we feared to use our strength in freedom's defense?

Since Franklin D. Roosevelt, four Presidents have kept America's course firm. All of those four Presidents have been supported every step of the way by two of the great sons of Georgia--Dick Russell and Carl Vinson.

Senator Talmadge and the other members of the Georgia delegation, Chairman Rivers and the other members of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Monroney and the other Members of the Senate, have all contributed valiantly and generously to our achievements.

But the lead horses--the ones that we all saluted, the ones we all listened to, the ones we all asked for permission to speak--there sits one of them and the other one is thinking of us today.

I would have you good folks of Georgia know that there are a lot of Marietta, Georgias, scattered throughout our 50 States. There are a lot of good people in a good many places.

There are a lot of good workmen that are led by Mr. Siemiller and some of our finest technicians. All of them would like to have the pride that comes from this production.

The people of Johnson City would even be very happy to have this payroll.

But all of them don't have the Georgia delegation. And none of them had Carl Vinson and Dick Russell.

An entire generation of Americans have supported them in the decision to walk the path of responsibility, in partnership with our friends and our allies.

Since we have never used our might for empire, we never measure our effectiveness in conquests.

--We see its success in the fact that a third world war--so freely predicted just 10 years ago--has not enflamed the globe--at least as yet.

--We see its success in a Europe that was once in shambles, that is now vital, progressive, and growing strong.

--We see it in a Latin America which once faced the threat of complete Communist takeover--they actually still have Cuba. It now has an opportunity-the other nations in this hemisphere-to grow in freedom.

--Violence has flamed in new states in Africa, but many of them today are moving towards stability.

--In Asia, the agony of battle in the Vietnam nation where so many of our people are standing now, clouds the fact of progress in that area. In Vietnam itself, a people under savage attack from outside aggression have held three elections, have adopted a constitution, have elected a president, a vice president, a senate and a house, and are slowly--if with great difficulty--building a nation despite the enormous destruction that is being imposed by an outside aggressor.

These are the rewards of the responsible use of strength for more than 20 years by responsible men.

Today, we are no longer alone in strength among our friends. But United States strength is still essential to the preservation of peace and freedom and order in this world. And without United States strength, the forces of aggression would triumph and the security of the United States would be imperiled--as surely as it was when we faced the danger just a few years ago across a ravaged Europe.

Then our responsibility was new and it was uncertain. Today, we know its cost. But we also know the much larger cost that we would pay if we cut and ran, or if we turned our back, or if we sought the easy way out of appeasement.

This aircraft that we roll out here today is a signal, it is a signal that responsible men shall never abandon the road of responsibility. We shall march it proudly--as we have marched it since that day when Franklin Delano Roosevelt, under a Georgia sky at Warm Springs wrote his last words: "Great power involves great responsibility."

Under the leadership of the men that this great State produces, responsibility will always be recognized and that responsibility will always be met.

Thank you.

I have something else I want to thank Georgia for and that is my Associate Press Secretary, Tom Johnson--one of the finest, ablest, young sons in America from Georgia. We are very, very proud in this Nation of Lockheed and the men who built this job on time. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:02 p.m. at the Lockheed-Georgia plant at Marietta, Ca. In his opening words he referred to Daniel J. Haughton, Chairman of the Board of Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Lester Maddox, Governor of Georgia, Harold Brown, Secretary of the Air Force, Gen. John P. McConnell, Air Force Chief of Staff, Carl Vinson, former Representative from Georgia and former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, L. Mendel Rivers, Representative from South Carolina and present Chairman of the Committee, Herman E. Talmadge, Senator from Georgia, and A. S. Mike Monroney, Senator from Oklahoma. Later he referred to Richard B. Russell, Senator from Georgia, and P. L. Siemiller, President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Rollout Ceremony for the C-5A Cargo Plane, Marietta, Georgia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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