Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Arrival at the Tulsa International Airport

August 26, 1966

Mr. Hunt, Mr. Mayor, Governor Bellmon, Senators Monroney and Harris:

Senator Monroney and I entered the Congress only a year apart. That was back in the 1930's. And we have been working together ever since.

Senator Harris is one of the few freshmen Senators to be chairman of his own subcommittee the first year he was in the Senate. He is an Oklahoma statesman in the image of the great Democrat, Bob Kerr.

Oklahoma's delegation to the House of Representatives is among the finest in the Nation. Carl Albert, the "Little Giant from Little Dixie," is our majority leader in the House and he has attained the highest position in Government of any Oklahoman, and he deserves it.

Ed Edmondson, as I am sure you know, has been a key figure in the development of the Arkansas River to which the distinguished Mayor just referred, and in promoting Indian affairs legislation. He has been one of the ablest Democrats in that body.

Tom Steed of Shawnee has done excellent work as Chairman of the Subcommittee on U.S. Capital Appropriations. John Jarman of Oklahoma City has served his Fifth District continuously since 1950.

Page Belcher of Enid has now represented your First District for more than 16 years. He is a member of the very important House Agriculture Committee.

Mr. Jed Johnson of Chickasha is the youngest Member of the House of Representatives at 26 years of age.

I am very pleased that all of these men were able to come here to Oklahoma with me today. For many years I have listened way into the night about the problems of Oklahoma: agricultural problems, oil problems, water problems, dam problems, Arkansas River problems. I thought today as I was winding my way back from Idaho through the great western capital at Denver that I might just stop off over here in Oklahoma and have supper. Evidently, your Governor thought I might stay longer. So he started sending me wires.

Now my friends that invited me down here promised me the surprise of my life for a birthday, but I didn't know the surprise was going to be the Governor. Really, I would have waited until after November to come by Tulsa but I was afraid that there might not be any Republicans around here after November.

Well, anyway, we are here today not as Republicans and not as Democrats--I say in good humor to the Governor--but we are here first of all as Americans who are interested in the great State of Oklahoma, in its progress, in its industrial future, in its moving ahead in space science and the fine fields.

Your own man, Jim Webb, has led the space effort for the whole Nation and I would like to pay great tribute to him here tonight.

Mr. Leverett Edwards is the Chairman of our National Mediation Board and has rendered distinguished service and is a great credit to the State of Oklahoma.

I have with me Mr. Gene Foley, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce who is Director of the Economic Development Administration that is going to provide a lot of jobs and a lot of industry for this great State.

Also, Mr. Howard Jenkins of the National Labor Relations Board, and Mr. Rosel Hyde, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who comes from Idaho, where we visited early today.

I have Mr. Jim Jones of the White House staff who makes my job much easier.

So, frankly, I would say this is no time to be partisan. This is no time to play politics with the problems that all of us face, Democratic Presidents, Republican Congressmen, Democratic Senators, Republican Mayors. I am not searching for a Democratic solution to any of these problems or a Republican solution. I am only looking for the right solution. The solution to Vietnam--about which we have some banners over here--is not a partisan solution.

The solution to Vietnam is patience. We are going to have to fight until the Communists realize that they cannot defeat us and decide to end the fighting or to seek a peaceful settlement.

Almost 300,000 American men are in Vietnam tonight. They are giving their time and they are giving up their luxuries, for America--and many of them are giving up their lives.

What can we give them in return? We can let them know that we believe in what they are doing. We know they are fighting for a free Asia. We know they are fighting for a safer world.

And most of all, we must give them our understanding, our support, and our patience. We must let them know, and we must let the world know, that we are willing to bear the burden of a long struggle to defeat the Communist invasion of South Vietnam.

For patience is the answer. And patience is everyone's business. It doesn't belong to any single party alone.

I had lunch only yesterday in the White House with one of the greatest men that this country has ever produced. He has been our Chief of Staff, he has been a Commander of our European theater, he has been head of our NATO forces. He has been president of Columbia University. And he has been President of the United States.

I had lunch with General Eisenhower. During the conversation, someone said that tremendous American firepower helped him make the difference in World War II. President Eisenhower immediately replied, "No, our firepower was essential, but what really made the difference in World War II was the tremendous willpower of the American people."

And I think President Eisenhower was right. Willpower has been our secret all along--and it must be now.

If I were writing a history book of this time, I would call this "The Era of Progress." It has been a time of great progress generated by great willpower.

I can remember the days of the Dust Bowl and the days when Oklahomans by the thousands pulled up stakes and left their native soil to go other places.

Those were terrible days for Oklahoma and for the Nation.

But there aren't going to be any more Dust Bowls because we have learned how to harness the soil and how to control and use our rivers to the best advantage.

The great Arkansas River this year will get almost 10 percent of all the appropriation for all the public works on rivers in the United States--this one area alone.

You can multiply that example a few dozen times and get a good idea of the kind of American progress that I am talking about.

Look at what has been happening to the per capita income of the State of Oklahoma that I have heard Bob Kerr, Mike Monroney, Carl Albert, and the others talk about by the hours. From 1960 through 1965 your per capita income climbed slightly more than 3 percent every year--a total increase of almost 17 percent. And I am talking about real dollars.

From 1963 through 1965, your per capita income rose 5.8 percent per year each year-the last 2 years almost 12 percent. And my economists tell me that in the last 6 months, Oklahoma's income has risen even higher than the 6 percent a year.

Now, look at your employment picture.

In 1965 it was up more than 2 percent over 1963. If you add the total employment figures since 1965, the percentage will go a little over 3 percent.

In America, we would all call this a great, rich success story. What you see here tonight in Oklahoma is just a reflection of what has happened all over the country since 1960. Although you have been slightly more aggressive and slightly more progressive and you are bearing the fruits of that thinking.

The most important reason, though, I think, is the willpower as well as the vision of the people of Oklahoma. So, I have come here tonight to say to you: Be of strong heart. Give us your patience without your partisanship. Give us your support. Let us all be Americans first, and Democrats or Republicans last. Let us support our men in Vietnam and send them the message that we will see it through.

I went to Washington 35 years ago. At that time, we had a lot of problems. I thought we never could face those problems and solve those problems and find solutions to them. They were problems of the Dust Bowl, they were problems of the tenant farmer, they were the problems of home foreclosures, they were the problems of bonus marchers coming to Washington and being driven down Pennsylvania Avenue to the camps of Anacostia, they were the problems of souplines that stretched out on every main street.

Our average weekly wage at that time was $18 per week. Today, it is $112 per week. Our average per capita farm income at that time was $300 per year. It is $5,440 today. Sure, we had problems then, and we have problems now. But the problems then were the problems of poverty, were the problems of depression. The problems we have today are the problems of prosperity. We have good jobs. Seven million more people are working today than they were when I went in the executive department and left the Senate just a few years ago. Seven million more jobs. Seven million more taxpayers.

Unemployment has dropped from 7 percent to a little over 3 percent. So, when you have all your people working--76 million of them--drawing good wages, making good income, working reasonable hours, you are going to have problems with prices. Our prices have risen 10 percent since 1960. The last 6 years, our prices have gone up 10 percent, but our per capita income has gone up nearly 20 percent. We have 20 percent more income to buy things that cost us 10 percent more.

And our profits have gone up 83 percent for the highest profits after taxes in the history of this country. We have had two tax rebates in the last 2 years.

Now we may have another kind of tax bill down the road. I am not going to talk about that tonight because I don't know. But I do know that we have a great deal to be thankful for. We have a great deal to be grateful for. We have a great many blessings that we ought to recognize.

Now some people like to get worried. Some people like to be concerned. Some people like to be frustrated and I can't do anything about satisfying them all. But I can say this to you: that I doubt the 120 nations that I deal with, the 120 countries that we have representatives to in the form of Ambassadors, I doubt that you can point to a single one of those countries on the map where any single person in the sound of my voice tonight would not like to trade places with what you have here at home. That is a pretty good record for your accomplishment.

I said a few years ago my personal political philosophy was this: that I was a free man first, that I was an American second, that I was a public servant third, and a Democrat fourth, in that order. I have come here tonight as an American, a free American and a public servant, the President of this country. I have come here to say to you that your country is steering a firm and steady course, that we are enjoying a prosperous period, that we have the problems that go with prosperity, that we have the problems of defending freedom and liberty in the world; because there are a lot of people who want what we have and we have to protect it.

We are protecting it and we are defending it and we are living up to our treaty obligations and we plan to until success is assured, until our boys win and until we can bring them home with pride and with honor.

So, to the men of all religions and all faiths, to the men of all colors and all regions, to the men of all political parties, I say here in the great State of Oklahoma tonight you have every reason to be very proud of those that you have sent forward to represent you in the councils of your Federal Government.

I am not going to stay all night. I am not even going to talk all night. I am just about through. I do want to present, though, my long-time beloved friend, the most distinguished Governor from the State of Texas, John Connally.

And now I am going to take a little drive out here to Pryor and see some of my friends out there, have a light dinner, and go on home before it gets too dark. Good night.

Note: The President spoke at 6:45 p.m. at Tulsa International Airport, Tulsa, Okla. His opening words referred to Russell Hunt, chairman of the welcoming committee, Mayor James M. Hewgley of Tulsa, Governor Henry Bellmon of Oklahoma, and Senators A. S. Mike Monroney and Fred R. Harris, both of Oklahoma. During his remarks he referred to, among others, Robert S. Kerr, Senator from Oklahoma 1949-1963, and James E. Webb, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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

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