Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Arrival at the Airport in Dayton, Ohio

September 05, 1966

Mayor Hall, Governor Rhodes, Senator Lausche, Congressman Love, Secretary Wirtz, Mr. Bush, our distinguished Chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission, Mr. Frazier Reams, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Mr. Robert Mihlbaugh, the Democratic candidate for Congress, Mr. James Pelley, the distinguished members of the Michigan delegation who accompanied me here, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls:

I am especially grateful to all of you for coming here and extending to me and Mrs. Johnson this evening the warm welcome and hospitality that is so typical of this great State of Ohio.

I told Governor Rhodes coming out here a few moments ago that I never came into your State but what I felt grateful for your friendship and I admired the quality of the citizenship of the people of this State and the type of public servants that you produce.

The "beautiful Ohio" of the song is the great river winding south of here. But it could be the State itself, because Ohio is one of the most beautiful parts of all America. This rich, industrial, and agricultural State typifies, to me, America, and the wonderful city of Dayton typifies Ohio.

Your boulevards and streets are wide and they are lined with trees. Your homes and your lawns are well planned and are carefully tended. Your schools and churches and industries have been built by a thriving, happy, prosperous, and prudent people who are proud of their city, their State, their Nation, and their citizenship.

This prosperous city in the heartland of this great, free country that we call America is far different from the tortured cities and hamlets in Vietnam where almost half a million of our men are at this moment.

There, we have 300,000 young Americans in South Vietnam; many thousands more in the Navy off the coast. There are many, I am sure, there from Dayton. They are fighting today a tough, dedicated enemy in order that we can have our liberty, be free, can peacefully assemble, and can have the right to come here and dissent or approve.

The Vietcong do not come from places like Dayton. They come from places where mere existence is a triumph and premature death is commonplace. They die before they are 35. Their average per capita income is only $65 per year.

The men of Hanoi have been astonished by the fighting qualities of American troops. These troops are better trained, better equipped, better supported than any who have carried our colors in the past. They have mastered new and difficult terrain. They have adapted to an oppressive climate. They are defeating a hardened and professional enemy with long training and with experience in guerrilla warfare.

This enemy has discovered what so many others have discovered in the wars America has fought, that the air of liberty breeds the best soldier.

This enemy has discovered that peaceful cities like Dayton, Ohio, can produce the most fearsomely destructive weapons known to man.

United States planes are reducing supply depots, bridges, oil fields, and military installations to rubble. The accuracy of the strikes is astonishing. We hit our targets and those targets are military, not civilian.

Hundreds of our planes fly out every day. They come from fields we have built in the South and from carriers lying off the coast. But these planes are really launched here in Dayton, Ohio.

Orville and Wilbur Wright made Dayton the birthplace of aviation. Its military and commercial facilities make it the center of American aviation today.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is one of the largest single air installations in the world.

Wright Air Development Center researches and tests all equipment for the Air Force, and the Air Materiel Command supplies this equipment to our installations all over the world. We are grateful for that Air Materiel Command.

And the skilled labor in Dayton factories produces many precision instruments that guide our pilots and protect their lives and will ultimately bring them back to their families.

America is without equal in the design and the manufacture of weapons of war. But America is never happy to take them up. This Nation would far rather use its power to heal humanity than to participate in a struggle.

I hope the day is near when the factories of Dayton and every other part of America produce only products of peace. I hope the day is near when the blessings of our technology are brought to all the world in peaceful exchange. I hope the day is near when our soldiers, sailors, marines, and our airmen can come home to take up once again the peaceful careers that their duty to their country interrupted.

I hope the day is near when war is only an ugly memory. But that day is not now. That peace is not here yet. So we must continue to do our best. We must continue to move forward--resolute, determined, and unafraid.

We must produce the best weapons, we must fight with the greatest bravery, and we must provide the greatest dedication until the warmakers who trouble this globe abandon their aggressive schemes. So it is up to us and other free men to convince those who seize hunger, sickness, and poverty as an excuse for aggression; who believe that might makes right--those Communists who think that they can invade their neighbor and gobble up free hungry people.

We must convince them that the world of the future lies in liberty and not in chains.

So to Senator Lausche, Congressman Love, Mayor Hall, and Governor Rhodes, to Secretary Wirtz, Mr. Frazier Reams, Mr. Mihlbaugh, Mr. Pelley, and the others who have gathered here with me today, who have extended to me this warm welcome from Ohio, I say thanks to you in public service. And thanks so much to you, the fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters of the men who serve so faithfully at this moment.

The time will come when we will have peace in the world. We already are the most prosperous country. We already are the greatest homeowning country. We already have the greatest resources. We already have the finest, richest farms. We already have more men working today than we have ever had in all the history of this Nation, 77 million.

We already have them drawing higher factory wages, an average of $114 a week. We already have the highest personal income that we have ever had.

Now if we can find some way, somehow the answer to war in the world, so that we can bring our men home and have peace not only in our own shores but in all other nations, what a happy place this will be. And we will do that, if we continue to put our country first; if we think more of our Nation than we think of our party or of ourselves.

So to those of you who gave so freely of your time this Labor Day, those of you who came out to say hello to your men in public life and to welcome your President, Mrs. Johnson and I say, we bless you, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your hospitality.

Note: The President spoke at 4:10 p.m. at the Dayton Metropolitan Airport in Dayton, Ohio. In his opening words he referred to Mayor Dave Hall of Dayton, Governor James A. Rhodes, Senator Frank J. Lausche, Representative Rodney M. Love, Frazier Reams, Jr., Democratic candidate for Governor, Robert Mihlbaugh, Democratic candidate for Representative, and James Pelley, Democratic candidate for Representative, all of Ohio, W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor, and John W. Bush, Chairman. Interstate Commerce Commission.

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

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