Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's Toast at a Dinner Given in His Honor by President and Mrs. Park of Korea

October 31, 1966

President and Mrs. Park, Speaker and Mrs. Rhee, Prime Minister and Mrs. Chung, Chairman and Mrs. Chang, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Not very long ago, a friend of mine sat down with a Korean university professor, to talk about the great changes that have taken place in this country during the past decade.

They spoke of the rate of economic growth in Korea, now one of the highest in the world:

--of your rural development programs, which are transforming your countryside;

--of your vigorous democracy and your strong leaders, giving the best within them to building their country;

--and of Korea's very responsible role in the new Asia.

My friend searched for a way to sum up what these things meant to the people of Korea.

Your professor deliberated and then answered: "Self-esteem." He meant that confidence-that affirmative spirit--without which a people can accomplish little, and with which they can surmount any obstacles.

Together they recalled the time 16 years ago when a ruthless invader rolled through your streets, bringing terror and destruction to an innocent people. They recalled the long, hard fighting that drove him back into the North and that made this Republic free again. They remembered the years after the war when the task of reconstruction seemed too great for any people to accomplish. So much had to be rebuilt in this broken land; so much had to be changed; so much had to be created out of limited resources.

Korea's friends helped, of course-through economic aid, and through strengthening the shield of security behind which this building could be done. Yet all the help in the world--all the aid and all the military security--could not have achieved the new Korea.

Koreans did that.

Through many trials and errors, through many disappointments, the Korean people remade their land--and they made it a better land. On that achievement tonight rests their self-esteem--and their confidence in the future.

Mr. President, we Americans are very proud that you have permitted us to play a part in that achievement. We are proud that we stood with you in the days when it was hard to see any light. We are proud that we remain with you in the morning of success and great promise.

Mr. President, I should like to take this occasion tonight to pay tribute to one of our own, a great lover and protector of freedom, who from the very first day, until the very last hour, has stood beside Korea in protecting her liberty and securing her independence--our own beloved Secretary of State, Dean Rusk.

And if the people of Southeast Asia are permitted to live in liberty and freedom, I know of no American who will have contributed more to it than the distinguished Secretary of State.

Korea inspires us to feel that nations can meet the gravest challenges successfully, if they can be secured from terror. And I can assure you, Mr. President, that the United States of America will continue to play its part in providing that security. Here in Korea tonight, our fighting men stand with your own along the demilitarized zone, and we shall come once more to your defense if aggression--God forbid--should occur here again.

What the Korean people are doing tonight in Vietnam is an even bolder testament of confidence. You know that those who are free themselves have a very special responsibility for defending the freedom of their neighbors. Your Korean people know what it is to fight an invading Communist army on your own soil. You know how much depends on a nation's morale--and you know how morale depends on the determined help of others. The commitment the Korean people are making in Vietnam tonight flows from their own experience--and from profound understanding of their obligations to freedom.

Mr. President, centuries passed before our two peoples came to know each other. Suddenly, on the battlefield, we became allies. In the years that have followed we have become friends. Now tonight we are partners in a new Pacific community. We know the mettle of the Korean people. We admire their bravery--and their self-esteem. We are glad that history--and the choice of both our peoples--have made us allies and friends and partners. May that past be only prologue to richer years yet to come.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Secretary, most distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to ask all of you to join me in a toast to President and Mrs. Park, and to the gallant people of this Republic.

Note: The President spoke at 10:10 p.m. at a dinner given in his honor in Government House, Seoul, Korea. In his opening words he referred to President and Mrs. Chung Hee Park, Speaker of the National Assembly and Mrs. Hyo Sang Rhee, Prime Minister and Mrs. Il Kwon Chung, Deputy Prime Minister Key Young Chang, who acted as chairman of the reception committee, and Mrs. Chang, all of the Republic of Korea.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's Toast at a Dinner Given in His Honor by President and Mrs. Park of Korea Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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