Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Arrival at the RAAF Fairbairn Airport, Canberra, Australia

October 20, 1966

Your Excellency the Governor General and Lady Casey, Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Holt, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister and Mrs. McEwen, Sir Alister and Lady McMullin, Sir John and Lady McLeay, Mr. Chief Justice and Lady Barwick, Your Excellencies, Members of the Cabinet and the Parliament, ladies and gentlemen:

The Vice President told me about how the good people of this land took him into their hearts when he recently visited you. My mouth has been watering ever since because I wanted to be where he was. Now, tonight, I feel that I have returned to my second home. When I first came here a quarter of a century ago, I thought that I had not left home at all, so much did your plains, your hills, and your bush country, your cattlemen, your cattle, and your sheep remind me of my native land of Texas.

I soon learned that the real similarities between us are far deeper and far more meaningful than those landscapes and livestock. The real equation was human. Here in Australia was the same openness, the same virility, the same self-confidence, the same generosity of spirit that I had treasured in my own country.

I am honored beyond measure tonight, upon my arrival, to see the cream and flower of your young manhood, who have rendered such gallant and distinguished service in Vietnam, come here to meet me. Because as I look upon that uniform with that hat turned to the side, it represents to me the highest degree of patriotism, the greatest amount of courage, and the kind of a neighbor that America always wants to have.

Mr. Prime Minister, I don't know what you are claiming credit for these days, but if you and the leader of the opposition will join, I want to thank both of you for that beautiful Texas sunset and for that wonderful American rainbow that I saw as I came in.

When I came here a quarter of a century ago, the people of Australia were engaged in a struggle to preserve freedom, a struggle to protect their homes, a struggle to advance the cause of peace for all men.

The Japanese were just 35 miles across the Owen-Stanley Range and they were coming in your direction. Then as tonight, Australian sons were fighting side by side with ours. Their gallantry then in Egypt, in Italy, in the South Pacific, inspired us to believe that our cause of right would one day prevail. Their gallantry tonight in Vietnam is one reason for the faith that we all have that aggression there will not succeed.

I came to Australia in 1942 on a mission of war. Now, more than 24 years later, I return tonight on a mission of hope. I cannot say that miracles will occur at Manila. I carry no magic wand. The hard work of securing the peace is never done by miracles.

I cannot say that the hunger and injustice of the past will be ended by a declaration of seven nations in Manila. Years must pass, years of dedication and patient effort, before men can make the kind of just society of which they dream.

Yet there is new hope, a new vision, in this vast area of the world. Nations are joining together not only to resist aggression and to prove that might does not make right, but to make a decent life possible for all of their people. Their vision is of freedom--freedom from foreign domination, freedom from tyranny, from the despair that rides with hunger, disease, and ignorance. It is the only vision that is really worthy of man's destiny.

We shall be guided by that vision as we meet and chart our course at Manila.

I am very grateful that once again the Australian and American people have put their hands and their shoulders side by side to the same task. I am grateful for the understanding that your distinguished Prime Minister and other Australian leaders have shown for America's role in the Pacific. I feel tonight--as I did in 1942--the confidence that comes from the steadfast support of a united people in Australia. You must know that we reciprocate that support in the fullest possible measure.

Together, as we have always been, I know that we shall succeed. Now I look forward to meeting with your great people once again.

I am particularly glad that Mrs. Johnson is with me. In 1942 she remained in Washington-when I put on the uniform--to run my congressional office in the House of Representatives. I have been told on very high authority that it never ran with greater efficiency before or since. Several people have even suggested that we might try the same arrangements now--that it might prove equally beneficial to my constituents in America and to our allies in the world.

But Mrs. Johnson insisted on finding out for herself whether all that I have been talking about for 24 years is really true in Australia.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, and to those loyal guests who came here in this chilly atmosphere, we are happy and excited to be with you. I have never looked forward to any 2 days in my life with more pleasurable anticipation. As I come to this new area of the world, this Pacific area that is now in a goldfish bowl, in the spotlight, where people who look to the future are looking across the Pacific, I know that my faith and my confidence in the leadership that Australia is going to give to the world of tomorrow is going to be rewarded.

Thank you and good night.

Note: The President spoke at 6:25 p.m. at the RAAF Fairbairn Airport, Canberra, Australia. In his opening words he referred to the following officials and their wives: Richard G. Baron Casey, Governor General of Australia, Harold E. Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, John McEwen, Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Alister M. McMullin, President of the Senate, Sir John McLeay, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Sir Garfield E. J. Barwick, Chief Justice of the High Court.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Arrival at the RAAF Fairbairn Airport, Canberra, Australia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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