Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at Malmstrom Air Force Base to Prime Minister Pearson of Canada

September 16, 1964

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished Members of the Congress, distinguished Governors:

Welcome to the United States, Mr. Prime Minister. And welcome to Montana whose majesty and western warmth should remind you of your own great country.

In 1963, Mr. Prime Minister, you said of Canada: "We are so friendly that we feel we can criticize the United States like a Texan does--and in the same idiom." This Texan hopes that you still feel that freedom, for we welcome the comments and the counsel which spring, as yours do, from friendship and understanding. Although I doubt that even with your grasp of languages you will be able to match the Texas idiom.

Twenty-one years ago President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie King met in Hyde Park. They agreed to work together to defend this hemisphere and to defend democracy everywhere.

From that day to this we have followed the same path of partnership. Free peoples everywhere are more secure because of our cooperation in NORAD, in NATO, and in the United Nations.

The freedom and richness of our lands, the hopes of the people it serves, depend upon the peace of the world that we live in. It is a symbol of our time that beneath the magnificence of this Montana stand weapons that are powerful enough to devastate much of a continent.

Those of us who seek peace know that only wisdom and patience, and the fortitude of long effort, can bring us near to that goal. But we will always pursue that goal.

You, Mr. Prime Minister, are a symbol of that effort. You have never wavered in the defense of freedom. But you also have given much of your life so that free men might live in peace.

You have done much for your people. You have carried the influence of Canada to the highest councils and to the most hazardous crises of the world.

But we greet you not only as a great Canadian today. We welcome you as a man whose home is found wherever man seeks fulfillment amid the peace that you, Mr. Prime Minister, have labored so long and so hard to build.

Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a.m. at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls, Mont. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson responded as follows:

Mr. President, distinguished Governors, distinguished Members of Congress, Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen:

It gives me a very great pleasure to be on American soil once more and to receive such a kind and generous welcome from you, Mr. President, and from your distinguished colleagues.

This is a very brief visit, but it gives me time and opportunity to bring to you the warm good wishes of the Canadian people toward their American friends. You know, I feel like a neighbor dropping in to make a friendly visit. Indeed, that is what I am doing, because I just dropped in to pick up the President and take him back to Canada.

This is the kind of relationship which exists between our two peoples. It is close, it is informal, it is important, and it is neighborly. Like leaning over a back fence to talk to your neighbor, but a back fence which neither neighbor wishes to pull down and which both are anxious to keep in good repair. Of course, there are differences of opinion and, at times, frustrations between even the best of neighbors, and we have them between our two countries, but they do not prevent a warm underlying friendship and understanding.

Mr. President, you and I will be setting forth today on a fascinating and historic journey to explore from the air I hope we will be able to see it--the mighty Columbia River and the region of a great cooperative development, a development which agreement between our two governments made possible.

To me the Columbia River project is the kind of enterprise which best demonstrates the partnership between the United States and Canada. This is what our two countries are uniquely fitted to do, to join together in the constructive development of our continent's resources for the benefit of present and future generations, in a world in which I hope we will be at peace.

The Columbia River Treaty is not only an achievement in itself, but an earnest for the future. We must follow it up with other fruitful joint endeavors which will give substance to our friendship which I am so proud to acknowledge this morning, and meaning to our good neighborhood, of which this happy meeting is a witness.

Thank you.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at Malmstrom Air Force Base to Prime Minister Pearson of Canada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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