Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's Christmas Message to the Men and Women of the Armed Forces.

December 16, 1967

THE FIRST Christmas season of our independence lives in our literature and our legend as a time that tried men's souls. Service to country was the test of a patriot. "He that stands it now," wrote Thomas Paine, "deserves the love and thanks of man and Woman."

We were 2 1/2 million people then, and our purpose was freedom.

Now we are 200 million people, and our purpose is unchanged--it is freedom still.

Out of the sacrifices of those who stood in 1776 and the years that followed, the dream of liberty took life.

But the struggle that tested their devotion has never ended.

In almost every generation since, Americans have stood on other fields of battle as you stand now--to fight for freedom--to fight to preserve their country.

The soldiers who served under Washington were men for their time. They marched to make a nation. But they were also men for all ages, marching to a distant drum.

"The fate of unborn millions," General Washington said, "will now depend under God on the courage and conduct of this army."

His words carry across the years. Their message is undimmed in our time.

Because of your courage, and your steadfastness, freedom today endures on this earth. And with freedom's survival, man's hope for peace is strengthened. For without freedom, there could be no peace--only a dead dream in a darkened world.

This is the meaning of your service and sacrifice in this Christmas season, when the souls of men are being tested again. No Americans before you have more surely earned the Nation's tribute.

May God bless you and your loved ones is the wish of your President at this Christmas season.

Note: The message was prepared for distribution to the Armed Forces after December 16, 1967. It was made available to the press through the White House Press Office but was not issued in the form of a White House press release.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's Christmas Message to the Men and Women of the Armed Forces. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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