Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the White House Fellows Ceremony.

June 28, 1965

Mr. Rockefeller, distinguished guests:

The first occupant of this house, John Adams, once said that if he could have his wish, "... There should never be a show or a feast made for the President while I hold the office."

Well, I like people too much to subscribe entirely to that Adams doctrine for myself. But I will say--and Mrs. Johnson joins me in this--nothing makes us happier than to be hosts, rather than honorees, at such functions as the one arranged here this afternoon.

We are glad you're here. It is our privilege to welcome you to your house--this house of all the people.

This has been an unusually significant day for me in the White House. This morning I sat in the Cabinet Room--over in the West Wing. And there--by means of communications satellite--I talked with and I listened to the heads of governments of friendly nations across the Atlantic.

As I sat there, several thoughts passed through my mind which, I think, seem appropriate for this occasion now.

First of all, there was the thought that all nations--not just a few nations--could have been, and should have been, joined together in that conversation and many others like it. It is true that modern technology has brought peril to human existence. But that peril need not dominate us--and it need not paralyze us--if politics and politicians will put our technological progress to work serving the purposes of peace and the betterment of all mankind.

But another thought was present in my mind this morning. In times such as these, a society which cherishes freedom--a society which has a yen and a zest for higher values of man--cannot be a spectator society.

In its deepest sense, freedom requires a sense of participation--a full, zestful sense of participation. A spectator society is doomed to be a listless society.

And this is true whether we speak of our American society, or the great Atlantic society, or the broad, global society of all men who aspire for justice and decency and freedom in human affairs.

For whatever our continent, or our culture, or our creed, or our color, all of us on this earth are all involved today in really determining the destiny of man--both by what we do and perhaps more by what we neglect to do.

Our collective involvement, then, is real.

Our individual commitment, then, must be real, too.

So, I am quite pleased and very proud that in America so many of our people are showing today a new and a growing spirit of commitment to the values of this society of which we are so proud. Just as one measure, I think I could mention that in the Peace Corps and in the programs of the war on poverty there are now more than 500,000 Americans, of all ages, serving as volunteers-more than a half million volunteering to make their individual commitment and their individual contribution to our society through these efforts.

So, more than any other generation of this century, today's Americans are involved, and they are committed, and they are willing, and they are ready to give themselves and to give their talents in order to enrich the lives of others, both here at home and in the lands around the world.

And in the final analysis, a democratic society achieves excellence not just by its arts alone, nor by its commerce or enterprise, nor by the magnitude of its abundance, but always and only by the standards of citizenship which each citizen demands of himself.

Last spring I established this new program of White House Fellows to recognize and to provide an outlet for the very high demands that some of our younger citizens are so worthily making of themselves. We invited those who wanted to share first-hand, high-level experience in their Government to apply--and do you know that more than 3,000 did from all the various professions.

A distinguished commission, headed by a most distinguished man and a patriot, Mr. David Rockefeller, made the final selections. And one Fellow now will be assigned to the Vice President, one to each member of our Cabinet, and four members will join the White House staff. I expect their prestige and their presence to add to the quality of our labors.

We are very grateful to Mr. John Gardner and the Carnegie Foundation for helping to make this program possible.

And to each of you who have been selected, I am very proud to offer my heartiest congratulations. In the year that you spend here, I am confident that you will contribute much to us. And I am confident also that you will take away from this association a new and a deeper conviction that your land--and its leadership today--have but one purpose. That purpose, above all else, is to preserve peace with honor, with freedom, with justice, progress with equal opportunity for all men and all time.

Now, it is my great pleasure to ask Mr. Rockefeller to come forward and read the list of the winners of the White House Fellows for the year 1965, and to thank each of you for coming here and honoring us with your presence.

Note: The President spoke at 5:50 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to David Rockefeller, President of the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City, and Chairman of the Commission on White House Fellows. Later he referred to John W. Gardner, President of the Carnegie Corporation which sponsored the program, and a member of the Commission.

The program, designed to give outstanding young Americans top-level experience with the workings of the Federal Government, was established by the President on October 3, 1964 (see 1963-64 volume, this series, book II, Item 622).

On October I, 1965, the President announced the names of the first 15 persons chosen for the White House Fellows Program as follows: William R. Cotter of New York City, John A. DeLuca of Los Angeles, Calif, Richard L. deNeufville of Boston, Mass., Edwin B. Firmage of Columbia, Mo., Wyatt T. Johnson, Jr., of Macon, Ca., Robert R. Lee of Palo Alto, Calif., Maj. Ronald B. Lee of Wheaton, Md., Charles M. Maguire of New York City, David C. Mulford of Rockford, Ill., Howard N. Nemerovski of San Francisco, Calif., Robert E. Patricelli of West Hartford, Conn., Harold A. Richman of Chicago, Ill., Thomas C. Veblen of Minneapolis, Minn., Michael H. Walsh of Portland, Oreg., and Kimon S. Zachos of Manchester, N.H.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the White House Fellows Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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