Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Arrival at the Airport, Huntington, West Virginia

October 26, 1968

Mrs. Smith, Congressman Hechler, ladies and gentlemen:

I am so happy that I could have this brief stopover here this afternoon, on my way to Kentucky, for an appearance later this evening in West Virginia.

It was here in Huntington 4 years ago in April that I completed the tour of the Appalachia area. I came to see what conditions were, to try to find a solution, and try to do something about it.

Four years later, we still have many of the same problems, but we have come a long way.

When I was here in 1964, our unemployment was almost 11 percent. Today it is just a little over half that. When I was here 4 years ago, we were having problems with jobs, with education, with health, with social security, with medical treatment for our people.

We have not solved all those problems. We are going to have them with us for a long time, but we have come a long way.

For every dollar that we were spending of Federal funds educating our children in 1964, we are spending almost four times as much today. For every dollar that we were devoting to our people's health 4 years ago, we are devoting three times as much today. For every person who was unemployed 4 years ago, we have cut that unemployment in half.

So we have made progress. We have started moving again. We are going to continue on that move.

Now, one of the reasons why we have made that progress was because the good State of West Virginia has given us a good Governor, two good Senators, and a good congressional delegation to the House, men like Ken Hechler--and I want you to send him back.

Of course uneasiness goes with all of us today because there are more than a half million of our men in Vietnam whom we would like to see back home. We went there to save this struggling country from being enveloped in communism. We went there in accordance with the commitment of the United States Government given by three Presidents. And we are going to stay there until we can fulfill that commitment and come home with peace, with honor.

We are negotiating at the table today in Paris. We are doing everything that we know how to do to try to find areas of agreement, to try to find means of deescalating the war, of trying to find a manner in which we could, with honor, withdraw our troops and the North Vietnamese would withdraw theirs, and we would leave the South Vietnamese future up to the people of South Vietnam.

But until we can find that answer, we cannot run away from our obligation. I don't believe the people of America or the people of West Virginia would have us do it.

So, I say to you, while we still have problems, we have made progress. Our people are better educated. Our people are more fully employed. Almost 20 million of our people have the benefits of Medicare.

We do have ahead of us, I hope, at a not too far distant date, peace in this world. That is what people want more than anything else. But it is not easy. It requires patience. It requires determination. It requires courage.

On March 31 of this year I concluded that I would rather have peace than have a political year, so I withdrew my name as a candidate for the Presidency. I've devoted every waking hour to trying to find a solution to this problem, and I am going to do that up to the last moment I hold this office.

I hope and I believe that that decision in March was a wise decision. I hope and I believe that it will produce profitable and beneficial results.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for your delegation. Thank you for your Senators. And by all means, go to the polls November 5 and vote Democratic.

Note: The President spoke at 3:20 p.m. at Tri-State Airport, Huntington, W. Va. In his opening words he referred to Mrs. Hulett C. Smith, wife of the Governor of West Virginia, and to Representative Ken Hechler of West Virginia.

For the President's address of March 31, 1968, withdrawing his name as a candidate for the Presidency, see Item 170.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Arrival at the Airport, Huntington, West Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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