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Remarks Upon Arrival in Pocatello on Beginning a Trip in Idaho, Colorado, and Oklahoma

August 26, 1966

I have some friends traveling with me whom I would like to present, but first of all I want you to know Mrs. Johnson.

We thank you good people for coming out here and welcoming us to your great State. We are particularly pleased that we have an opportunity to come back to Idaho.

Traveling with us today are some of the leaders of this Nation. They are members of both parties. They are Members of both Houses of the Congress. They are men who are chief executives of States.

We all came to look and to listen and to learn. All Americans on an occasion like this can unite, regardless of their party, region, or religion.

So it gives me a great deal of pleasure to present to you the following who are with me: your distinguished Governor of the State of Idaho, Governor Smylie; your very able young Senator and my friend of many years, Frank Church; your former Governor and present United States Senator, Senator Len Jordan; Congressman George Hansen, your Member of Congress who rode out with us and discussed your problems on the way out; your Congressman, Congressman Compton White, who was gracious enough to present me and whom I have known for a good many years, along with his distinguished father ahead of him; Mr. Ralph Harding, a friend who met me at the plane and who seeks to serve you further; and Governor Calvin Rampton, the chief executive of the State of Utah.

I will comment on these gentlemen a little bit later, down the road, but I do want you to know them. They are: the two distinguished Senators from the State of Colorado, my friend Senator Gordon Allott and Senator Peter Dominick; and the congressional delegation from that sister State, Congressman Rogers, Congressman McVicker, Congressman Evans, and Congressman Aspinall; from Oklahoma, we have Senator Mike Monroney and Senator Fred Harris; and Congressman Page Belcher, Congressman Ed Edmondson, Congressman Carl Albert, Congressman Tom Steed, Congressman John Jarman, and Congressman Jed Johnson; from the great State of California, the distinguished Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, my friend Chet Holifield; one of the great public servants of our time, who has set an example for all young men who aspire to serve their country, Rosel Hyde, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from the State of Idaho; one of the finest men in public life, your own John Carver, the Under Secretary of the Interior; the very able scholar who is Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Glenn Seaborg; the man who gives us the direction and the leadership in the national aeronautics and space program, the Honorable Jim Webb; the man who led us in our Polaris effort in the Polaris submarine and the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, my friend Admiral Raborn; Gene Foley, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce; Mr. Leverett Edwards, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board; and Mr. Howard Jenkins, a member of the National Labor Relations Board.

Never has so much of the Federal Government been in Idaho before, I think.

That may be a good or a bad omen. But in any event, we have come here with a great deal of pride to see the work that you have been doing, particularly in the last 15 years, in the atomic energy field.

The Commission has been very anxious for a good many months that we should come here. We are back again.

When I came to Idaho 2 years ago, I was running way behind schedule. We got here after dark. I remember the wonderful reception. But to be perfectly honest with you, I saw a lot of people but I didn't see much of the scenery.

This time I decided we would start early in the morning instead of coming late in the evening, so last Saturday night when we had retired in Ellenville, New York, I leaned over to Mrs. Johnson and said: "Darling, next week let's have breakfast in Pocatello."

You don't know how pleased Mrs. Johnson was at that suggestion, because the beauty of the West is Mrs. Johnson's first love. The bluebonnets at home run a very close race and some of the pollsters include me in somewhere among those top three.

It is good, though, to be back in Idaho and Pocatello. You may recall that 2 years ago we wrote a very important chapter in Idaho through our own version of "How the West Was Won." It had a cast of thousands. As far as I am concerned, most of them were the good guys.

Last weekend in New England I talked about some of the problems that face this Nation. I have pointed out my political philosophy a good many times. I think I will just summarize it to you briefly here today. It has concerned some of the commentators and columnists from time to time. It may even concern some of the public officials and some of the voters.

But I have spent 35 years in public life. I have always followed this creed: I am a free man, first, and I am so proud of it and so grateful for it. I am an American, second. I am a public servant, President of the United States, third. And a Democrat, fourth. In that order.

But I came here today as an American and as President of all the Americans. I brought with me good Americans, outstanding Americans, of both parties.

Last week when I visited five States, I spoke to them about the problems of poverty in this country, of poor health, of inadequate education, of inadequate housing, of racial discrimination, of violence and of unrest in our cities. I spoke of other problems that flow not alone from poverty, but from our prosperity.

You know we have problems that come from prosperity just like we have problems that come from depression. Problems of air and water pollution, problems of rising prices and rising wages, rising profits, problems of inflation and conservation, of increasing leisure and of dwindling space, of rural America's farm needs, of worldwide commitments and responsibilities, of scientific needs in the 20th century.

Many nations in the world know only a few of these problems, principally the problems of poverty. And no nation is altogether free of any of these problems. If the universal presence of poverty has any useful effect, it is in reminding wealthy nations of their common humanity with those who are poor.

Yet poverty is a very high price to pay for wisdom. Men ought to be able to build bridges of understanding between themselves out of better stuff than their common poverty. I believe they can. I believe that every nation will rejoice in suffering the problems of prosperity as well as those of poverty.

And that is exactly what we are building and what we are working for--a world where the big problems are those that come from full production, from full employment, from good wages, from good prices, from good profits, from great personal freedom, from great political liberty. A world community that is based on these problems can endure and can grow in peace. A world where the few know the problems of wealth and the many know only the problems of the poor, is not what a prudent man can call a good long-term risk.

It will require more than understanding and more than generosity to build that world of health and hope. It will require self-help in the developing nations. It will require a steady commitment to the unglamorous foundations of the good society--education, agriculture, public service. And it will require the power of modern science to help men move through centuries of development in a few decades.

In country after country, including our own, the planners, scientists, and public officials are learning how to work together, how to pool their resources and their skills for the common good. And that is one purpose of this trip: that men can learn how to work together.

I will be in three States today and all three of them have Republican Governors. I am in a State now that has a Republican Senator and a Democratic Senator. Shortly I will go to a State that has two Republican Senators. Then just to make the evening wind up right I am going to a State that has two Democratic Senators.

We will have Democratic and Republican Congressmen with us as we go out to meet the people that we are all supposed to serve. They are challenging the conventional wisdom and ignoring the dead law of custom.

We are out here to learn about testing new fuels, new materials, new approaches to old problems, new forms of public and private cooperation. In one sense my trip today pays tribute to a new challenging spirit in America.

I will visit the Atomic Energy Commission's--a bipartisan Commission, incidentally-nuclear testing station, a plant that has meant much to the work of your Idaho State University laboratories as it has to the Atomic Energy Commission.

In Colorado I am going to see a space science building at the great University of Denver. It is worth remembering, I think, that just 20 years ago there scarcely was such a thing as space science at all, much less a building in the Rockies that was dedicated to that pursuit.

So you can see what great progress we are making and what can happen in 10 years or 20 years, or a year, for that matter.

Finally, I shall break ground late this evening, in the State of Oklahoma, for a new industrial complex that has been brought into being by cooperation between the Federal, State, and private interests.

So I have planned a day, really, of celebrating the possibilities, without forgetting the problems, of a progressive society. I am happy that so many of you would come here to meet us as we start our day. I want to thank you for helping us to start it off right.

I know that you hear the complaints. I know that you consider the problems--I know you worry about the future of a job, the wages you draw, the products you produce, and the prices that you get for your agricultural commodities. I know that you are concerned with our relations with other nations and our answers to the challenge in Vietnam.

All I can say to you in that respect is I doubt that there is another nation in the world that has an overall batting average as high as ours. I doubt if there is another government in the world that would not want to really trade places with our Government, our success, and our achievements.

So I would remind you that when I went to Washington 35 years ago I saw General MacArthur on a white horse chasing the veterans down Pennsylvania Avenue into the Anacostia Flats.

I saw men jumping out of windows of Federal land banks because their farms were being foreclosed. I saw us selling our calves for 3 cents and our goats and sheep for less than a dollar.

We had souplines that were longer than this airport fence. Those were the problems that met me when I first went to Washington.

Now, today, we have problems of 76 million men working, 76 million men asking for wage increases, 76 million men talking about the prices they pay, a good many talking about the profits they are making, and the cost of their interest. You are going to have problems whether you have depressions or prosperity. But I would much rather have the problems that I have today than those that we had with the souplines 35 years ago.

When you get a martyr complex and you start feeling sorry for yourselves and you really assume before you turn over and go to sleep at night that no one loves you-that is a way a lot of us feel from time to time, the "nobody-loves-me" complex--just look around the map of the world of 120 other nations and see which citizen you would like to trade places with, which flag you would exchange ours for, which standard of living you would substitute for ours, which payroll you would like to get on in what country in lieu of the one you have, where they can get more for their sheep or goats or cattle or cotton, or anything else they produce than they get here, and where they have the liberty to talk about it, complain about it, fuss about it, and then vote about it.

After all, I think that we Americans who are gathered here, with all the problems we have, before we go to bed tonight, ought to thank the Good Lord for the many blessings that He has brought to this democratic society, thank Him for a two-party system, thank Him for the freedom and liberty that is ours, and ask Him to guide us, protect us, and to lend a little special effort to those men who are willing to die for us out in Vietnam in this hour so that we may be here enjoying this beautiful scenery, looking at these beautiful mountains, watching these proud and attractive faces, and recognize that America is still the America of the beautiful and the strongest, most powerful, richest nation in the world--and by all means the best place to live.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:53 a.m. During his remarks he referred to, among others, former Representative Ralph R. Harding who served in the 87th and 88th Congresses from the 2d Congressional District of Idaho, and was the Democratic candidate for Senator in 1966.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Arrival in Pocatello on Beginning a Trip in Idaho, Colorado, and Oklahoma Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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