Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks to the United States Marshals

August 18, 1964

General Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy, ladies and gentlemen:

I am honored to welcome you to this house this evening. I thought it best that we not assemble in the Cabinet Room. It looks something like a jury room--and some of you might try to keep us from talking to anyone on the outside. That would be quite a considerable handicap for Cabinet officers or Presidents in this election year!

The marshals' service and the Presidency are sharing a common anniversary. For both offices, this is the 175th year of existence.

We still have only one President. But where President Washington nominated 13 United States marshals, Presidents today nominate 91 of the 92 marshals.

The first task of the first marshal is still your task today--the task of maintaining respect for law and order on which our democratic system stands.

Our system and our society are made stronger by free expression, free petition, free and full debate. But no cause of liberty is ever license for disregard of the law or disrespect for those who serve as responsible agents of this system of justice of ours.

All who wear the badge bear a proud trust. Their conduct, their attitudes, their actions--off duty as well as on duty--personifies the dignity and the equity and the essential nobility of our society's highest values.

We demand much, and we receive much, from all such men as you. But our demands upon you and your families, and all who serve law enforcement, are not a one-way street.

Our society must always demand and must always require respect for the person of those who personify the majesty of the law. Any who defy, or defame, or do injury to law enforcement officers defame and do injury to all the people.

This is an exacting season in our national life, because we strive toward the exacting standards of free men: equal rights and equal responsibilities, equal opportunity and equal obligation, equal justice under law and equal respect for that law.

We have raised our standards high. We will maintain them without compromise. As Thomas Jefferson once put it, "Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals."

So we should never forget that lawlessness is found in many places and found in many forms. Sophisticated syndicates which systematically evade the law are no more tolerable to a law-abiding society than spontaneous street demonstrations which degenerate into disregard for the law.

I am determined that we shall use every resource of our Federal Government, in cooperation with State and local authorities, to eradicate organized crime in all of its forms. That extends from shakedown racketeers who prey on business and labor to smut peddlers who prey upon our youth.

You are doing high honor to a long tradition. In your honor this afternoon, I am issuing a proclamation designating your service's 175th anniversary--on September 24, 1964--as United States Marshals' Day, to be observed throughout all the States in this land.

I am particularly glad that our able Attorney General would call these meetings and institute a practice of regularly asking you to come here to meet with us and to counsel with us. I am happy about the high quality of personnel that make up the marshals in the United States.

I am very pleased to have in our company this afternoon a marshal who served his country in another capacity on a PT boat with our late beloved President Kennedy.

So, we are glad that you came here. We honor you for the fine work that you are doing. We thank you for the indulgence that you have given us in the critical days in many civil rights situations in the last few weeks.

We look forward, with great hope and expectancy, to the same high quality of dedicated service in the future that has so characterized your past.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House at a reception for the U.S. Marshals and their families. His opening words referred to Attorney General and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy. Later he referred to U.S. Marshal John E. Maguire, Sr., who served as a radioman on a PT boat with President Kennedy in the Asiatic theater in World War II.

On the same day the President issued Proclamation 3608 proclaiming September 24, 1964, as United States Marshal Day (29 F.R. 11995, 3 CFR, 1964 Supp.).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks to the United States Marshals Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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