Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's Telephone Greetings on the 82d Birthday of Harry S. Truman.

May 09, 1966

MR. PRESIDENT, I understand that you think I have more important things to do than wishing you a happy birthday. Well, for the first time in your life, you're wrong.

Mrs. Truman may know of some other times, but I certainly don't.

I want you to know that I'll never be too busy to pay my respects to a great American.

I am well aware that you get a little impatient with these annual birthday celebrations. I've often thought you'd rather have your friends cussing you than praising you. That may be why you became a Democrat.

But the trouble is, Mr. President, that nobody has anything left to fight with you about. We've had 13 years to see the wisdom of your policies. There's not a right-thinking person in the free world today who would want to go back and change one of them.

And so, Mr. President, I'm afraid that you're going to have to go right on, paying the price for greatness.

There's nothing I could do about it even if I wanted to. The Senate passed a resolution the other day demanding that I make your birthday greetings official, on behalf of the whole country and I've already signed the proclamation.

I'll tell you something else: You're not only going to have to put up with your admirers on this birthday, but on many birthdays to come. Like George Washington, you are first in the hearts of your countrymen, and there's no getting out of it.

Happy birthday, Mr. President, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke by telephone from the LBJ Ranch. Mr. Truman was attending a birthday luncheon at the Muehlebach Hotel at Kansas City, Mo.

As printed, the remarks follow the text read by Deputy Press Secretary Robert H. Fleming at his news conference at 12:55 p.m. on Monday, May 9, 1966, at San Antonio, Texas. They were not made public in the form of a White House press release. See also Item 212 below.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's Telephone Greetings on the 82d Birthday of Harry S. Truman. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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