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Remarks at the Swearing In of Leonard Marks as Director, United States Information Agency.

August 31, 1965

Mr. Justice Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Marks, Members of Congress, the Cabinet, my friends:

This is a particularly happy and gratifying occasion for us. In this Government, at this time in our national life, few offices carry such weight of responsibility and opportunity as that of the Director of the United States Information Agency.

Last year, shortly after coming to the Presidency, I was presented with the very sad and sorrowful duty of accepting the resignation from that office of one of our most distinguished and respected Americans--the late Edward R. Murrow.

Fortunately, at that time, I was able to call upon another honored son of this land, known and respected in lands around the world--my friend, Carl Rowan.

Carl's tour meant for him, and his family, an extension of the time that he had intended to devote to public service. But he knows of my gratitude and the gratitude of the country for the outstanding service that he has rendered so ably, so very effectively, these past 18 months.

Today, another very able and respected, internationally-known American takes the reins of this vital agency. His name is Mr. Leonard Marks.

He is a leader of his profession. He is eminently qualified for any of many positions of the very highest trust. But both professionally and personally he has devoted much of his life, both at home and abroad, to the field with which the USIA is most concerned: the field of communications.

Mr. Marks has been a moving force behind the development of educational television in this country. He has also been a leader in such efforts all around the world. In 1962 President Kennedy recognized Mr. Marks' tireless efforts in the public interest and appointed him as one of the first directors of the Communications Satellite Corporation. Over that same period, he has served as chairman of the International Communication Committee of the American Bar Association. In all his work, Mr. Marks has been concerned not merely with the legal aspects of communications but with the purposes and philosophy of this great instrument of international understanding.

If he won't object to my quoting him, I would like to read one paragraph from some of Mr. Marks' writings:

"Communications is the lifeline of civilization. Without it, people live in small tribal societies, suspicious of strange and different customs. With improved communications comes better understanding and a removal of the barriers of suspicion and distrust. When we know our neighbors, we are more likely to become friends, philosophically and socially, and from this relationship may evolve a world dedicated to the preservation of law in an atmosphere of peace. When that millennium is reached, the tribal boundaries will extend beyond the village and encompass the world."

Today the advancing technology of communications presents all of the human race the first real opportunity to encompass the world with the understanding that will finally assure peace for all mankind. This is an opportunity, and this is a challenge from which America cannot and must never turn away.

This Nation, and this Government, have no propaganda to peddle. We are neither advocates nor defenders of any dogma so fragile or a doctrine so frightened as to require propaganda. But we are, as our forefathers were 189 years ago, respectful of the opinions of mankind. And our devotion to the course of freedom requires of us a like devotion to the course of truth--so the opinions of mankind may really be informed and may be responsible.

Truth wears no uniform and bears no flag. But it is the most loyal ally that freedom knows. It is the mission, therefore, of the USIA to be always loyal and always faithful and always vigilant to the course of the truth.

The USIA now has an opportunity, I think, without parallel in its entire history. The truth about America today, I believe, if you tell it, is stirring and exciting. This is a country that is succeeding. This is a country that is moving forward. This is a country that is confident of its course, a country more devoted than it has ever been to the cause of mankind everywhere.

But truth about America is essentially the truth about freedom--and the story of freedom is the story that we want to tell the world.

So I believe this is a new era in the affairs of man and the relations between nations. It is an era of greater maturity, and I hope that our own goals and standards may also mature. I hope that we shall not expect quick answers to ancient questions, that we shall not expect simple solutions to complex problems. I especially hope that we may not strive foolishly and vainly for the world's love and affection when what we really seek is the world's respect and the world's trust.

In this era the USIA has the most valuable role to fulfill. It is a most important arm of our Government. It is a great arm of our society. There is no partisanship associated with it because the success of the USIA is success for all Americans.

The Director of USIA sits as a member of our National Security Council, along with our beloved and distinguished Vice President. And under this administration, he also will participate in meetings of the President's Cabinet. For we recognize the value and the importance and imperative of this Agency's success as the champion of truth in the great and the continuing course of freedom everywhere.

So today, I want to extend my own personal gratitude and my warmest wishes to Carl Rowan and his charming wife Vivian and their son for every success and for every possible happiness, to which they are duly entitled. Likewise, I am very grateful and proud that Leonard Marks, his wife Dorothy, and their sons, are now today joining our official family. Leonard Marks has my every confidence. He will have my fullest support to do the job which must be done now for freedom, for truth, for America--and to do it here and do it all around the world.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:35 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Associate Justice Tom C. Clark of the Supreme Court of the United States, who ado ministered the oath of office to Mr. Marks.

The text of Mr. Marks' remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 1, p. 182).

Outgoing Director Carl T. Rowan's letter of resignation and the President's reply were made public by the White House on July 10.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of Leonard Marks as Director, United States Information Agency. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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