Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Arrival at the Airport in Battle Creek

September 05, 1966

Congressman and Mrs. Todd, our friends from Battle Creek and all of this section of Michigan:

When my plane just touched down at the airport--as when it lands at airports all over the country--I was struck by the health and the strength and the prosperity, and particularly by the happiness of all of the people who do us the very great honor of coming here today.

I sometimes wonder why this health, this strength, and this prosperity are not on every tongue, and on every front page every day.

We have a lot of things to complain about. We do complain, we do record them, and we do repeat them.

But it does occur to me that just occasionally, particularly when we all get together, when neighbor comes with neighbor, when they meet their Congressmen, they see their President, that it might be worthwhile for us to just take an inventory of all the blessings that all America has. How lucky, how fortunate, and how blessed we are that we can live in the United States of America.

I do not believe that we are indifferent to our good fortune. We have struggled too hard too long for that.

I think we are just so busy building that we do not take the time to step back and look at the country that we have built.

But if we will just take a moment now, go with me for a second and see America.

--You will see a nation of 200 million people creating and enjoying an abundance that was undreamed of by your grandfathers or by your fathers. It was unequaled in the world that your ancestors left when they came here.

--You will see almost full employment from coast to coast, from the industrial East to the rich livestock and grainproducing West.

--You will see workers enjoying the highest weekly wage that they have ever earned in all the history of mankind.

--You will see mills and factories humming in now the 68th consecutive month of an unprecedented economic expansion in any country in the world.

--You will see our banks where our personal savings have increased 23 percent since 1961. You will see offices and plants of businesses whose profits have more than doubled in the last 5 years.

So why do we cry? Why do we weep? Why do we complain?

America is growing. America is prospering. We need not look back 30 or 40 years for comparison.

Let us look at the 2 1/2 years since I have been President.

In the first 1,000 days of this administration, the truest measure of the welfare of individuals-real income, real disposable income, that is what you want--has advanced at 3 times the rate of any previous period in our history. The economy in general, all over the Nation, has grown at 2 1/2 times the rate of any time since America was founded.

Let us think: disposable income 3 times the rate of the previous 10 years--economy in general 2½ times the rate of the previous decade.

Now we are going to continue that record. We want your help. We want your cooperation. With restraint and responsibility, we are going to accomplish more for the betterment of all human beings; the kind of a world that we dreamed of.

I hope you will excuse me if I run on to another engagement. I said way back early in my political life that I thought every 'person had a great reward if he had a chance to serve his fellow man.

I always thought for that reason that I wanted to be a teacher or a preacher or a public servant. When they asked me my personal philosophy I said: "I am a free man, first. An American, second. A public servant where you can serve humanity, third. And a Democrat, fourth--but in that order."

Because I think that America is much more interested in country than they are in party. I think they want us to always put our country first.

For that reason I am so happy to come back here to Battle Creek where Lady Bird came frequently as a child, to come back here and be presented to this audience by one of America's finest, young, forward-looking statesmen who puts his country before everything else, Paul Todd.

I just hope that you will leave here today and go out and say: "What is best for my country is best for me."

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. at the Kellogg Regional Airport, Battle Creek, Mich. In his opening words he referred to Representative and Mrs. Paul H. Todd, Jr.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Arrival at the Airport in Battle Creek Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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