Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Papandreou of Greece

June 24, 1964

Mr. Prime Minister:

It is a proud privilege for me to welcome you to the United States this morning, and to express my deep personal appreciation for your coming to our country at this time.

This country and your country are bound together by ties that are both ancient and modern. The founders of these United States drew deeply from the wisdom and the ideals of ancient Greece in formulating the concepts of our own free and democratic society. In this 20th century, your country and mine have stood stalwartly together to defend those enduring ideals against aggressors, and to advance their fulfillment among our people.

We are friends in freedom; we are allies in NATO for peace; we are co-workers in the common labors of progress and prosperity. These are strong and welcome bonds. We are bound together also, Mr. Prime Minister, by close and lasting ties of kinship. Americans harbor a very warm affection for those of your countrymen and their dependents who have honored us through the years by coming to live in our midst as neighbors, as friends, and as leaders in American life.

In recent months, occasions of grief have brought us close together in moments of national sorrow. Last November Queen Frederika came to our country as a representative of your country at the time of the tragic death of President Kennedy. Only a short time later, Mrs. Johnson made a sad mission of mourning to Athens to attend the funeral of your beloved King Paul, whom we had been privileged to meet so happily on our visit to your land only 2 years ago.

Today I am confident that your visit and the talks that we shall have together will again affirm the close and cordial relations between Greece and the United States. With diligence and understanding, we shall seek to chart a course that will preserve the union and harmony of free nations, militantly opposed to Communist aggression.

We in America know that the people of Greece yield to no other peoples in the world in their devotion to freedom and independence, and in their desire to keep the peace won and maintained by such great sacrifice from free men in our times.

Mr. Prime Minister, it is to that cause of peace that our efforts are dedicated today.

Note: The President spoke in midmorning on the South Lawn at the White House where Prime Minister George Papandreou was given a formal welcome with full military honors. The Prime Minister responded as follows:

Mr. President:

I thank you for your kind welcome. I regard it as a great privilege that upon your friendly invitation I find myself in the Capital of the mighty American democracy, the great friend and ally of Greece, and before this famous mansion which has housed so many illustrious promoters of human achievement, of liberty and justice.

I am happy that I shall be given the opportunity to become personally acquainted with the present great leader of the United States, the champion of peace, as well as with members of his administration and of the Congress of the United States.

Your concern for the maintenance of peace and freedom is shared by the Greek Nation and by myself. Greece has always tried for the promotion of peace. A people that has suffered as much as ours from the violence of war and the reverses of history can only long for peace, but no peace can be durable without justice, and no settlement of problems can be right and just if it is not based on democracy and freedom.

In the past there existed a distinction between the world of ideals and the world of politics, between a policy based on idealism and a policy based up on realism. Nowadays they have merged into one, and the policy is today the more positive the more it is in consonance with ideas. This constitutes the glory of our times, the glory of the free world whom you are called upon by history to lead.

My country does not forget that the United States, through the doctrine which bears the name of one of your great predecessors, President Truman, has been instrumental in the defense of Greece against aggression, as well as in the rehabilitation of the country, exhausted and devastated by cruel years of war. Greece also feels proud to be represented in your great democracy by a number of citizens of Greek descent who constitute a living link between the two nations, and of our national cultural ties to the world of American civilization.

Mr. President, I welcome this opportunity to bring to you and to the people of the United States the cordial salute of the people of Greece.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Prime Minister Papandreou of Greece Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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