Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Military Pay Bill.

August 12, 1964

Mr. Secretary, Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

One hundred sixty-three years ago, in his first message to Congress, President Thomas Jefferson said, "We should at every session of Congress continue to amend the defects... in the laws for regulating the militia . . ." And, he added, "until we can say we have done everything for the militia which we could do were an enemy at our door."

This 88th Congress, like the 87th Congress, has followed that advice. In 1961 and 1962, last year and now this year, much has been done to show our uniformed citizens a fuller measure of the respect that they have earned. Quarters allowances were increased. Management of military family housing has been completely reorganized. Less than 1 year ago, for the first time in 5 years, military pay was increased by more than 14 percent.

By this bill, which I am signing today, still another increase will go into effect September 1. These efforts reflect our historic trust of our professional military men.

For 188 years the American in uniform has been bent upon peace and the preservation of democracy. The world respects him as a fighting man. His fellow countrymen respect him as a thinking man.

This measure is an answer to those who would libel his loyalty to our civilian society or slander his sense of responsibility for the trust he bears to all mankind.

We need and we want our most able men at all grades to make the military a profession. We want them to be able to know their service to America's defense will not be a disservice to their families' dignity.

We cannot promise, and they do not ask, assurance of comfort. None can know what tomorrow may require of any of us or all of us. But we can promise, and our citizens in uniform may expect, that we shall provide them with:

--the best and most modern arms available in this world,

--the support of the most stable free Government and successful united society in the world,

--the strength of the most prosperous and vigorous free economy in the world, and

--the incalculable asset of responsible national policies and purposes which inspire other peace-loving nations to send their sons to stand beside ours in the common cause of freedom around the world.

I am pleased to be able to in person congratulate many of the Members of Congress who are responsible for this legislation and certainly some of the leaders in formulating it.

I am proud that they could come here this morning to meet with the representatives of the services, the Joint Chiefs, the distinguished Secretaries of the Services, the Under Secretary of Defense, and Secretary McNamara himself.

I am proud now, in their presence to sign into law at this time this bill which I think the services so deserve.

Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara.

The military pay bill as enacted is Public Law 88-422 (78 Stat. 395).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the Military Pay Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242018

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