Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's Toast at a Luncheon in Honor of Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia

June 07, 1965

Mr. Prime Minister, distinguished guests:

Under any circumstance, this would be a very happy day for us in this country--and in this house.

After a momentous journey of more than 1 million miles, our two American astronauts have splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean. We are proud of them, and happy for the success of this peaceful adventure on mankind's newest frontier.

But in this house there is an added cause for happiness today.

After a journey of somewhat fewer miles-but not many less--the Prime Minister has "splashed down" here in the White House. And we are very proud to have him with us for this occasion of friendship and fellowship.

The affection and mutual admiration between Americans and Australians is well and widely known. Over the years of this century, that friendship has been a source of strength for the cause of freedom--and a source of despair and frustration for the purposes of those who have followed the path of aggression.

We of the United States are honored, Mr. Prime Minister, that your flag and our flag fly together, side by side, in the efforts these times require to preserve the peace of the world.

All through these times, men in other lands have questioned whether the democracies would stir themselves to stop aggression and save freedom. At the same time there have been those in the free countries who, so long as danger seemed far away, have asked whether such efforts should be made.

I remember that in 1940--before he became Prime Minister of Great Britain-Winston Churchill said that sometimes he was asked: "What is it that Britain and France are fighting for?" To that question, Churchill answered: "If we left off fighting, you would soon find out."

The appetite of aggression feeds on success. If the strong nations should fail or forfeit their trust, both the strong and the weak would today "soon find out" what it is and why it is that we make our efforts together today.

On this same day 21 years ago, sons of all our countries were united in the great effort to push ashore in Normandy and liberate the peoples of Europe, and bring relief from the ravages of war experienced so brutally by the peoples of the Soviet. There was a common purpose then--a full unity and a full accord on our objectives. Because of that unity, and that accord, peace was finally won.

I do not despair of an abiding personal belief that the peoples--and the leaders--of the free democracies can achieve the same unity and find the same great common purpose in peace that we had in war.

The events in space remind us that all mankind has entered a new age. The world of 1965 is greatly changed from the world of the 1940's. At no other time, in all history, have peoples of earth had so much to unite them, so many tangible opportunities to work together in peace, so little provocation to walk different roads toward war and ruin.

We want them to walk together towards peace.

We live by no illusion that the way toward peace is easy or that the distance is short. We know that the course is steep, the obstacles are many. The tests will come often and the trials will be demanding. But all of us--in lands both rich and poor--have gained too much to gamble on either aggression or appeasement.

All through this country's program of manned space flight, the paths of our spacecraft have crossed over the land from which our visitor comes. Most often the flight has passed Australia during the darkness of night. On such occasions, the citizens of cities of Australia have turned on their lights--testing to see whether those lights are visible to man up among the stars.

In many ways, this is symbolic.

All around the world, where there is darkness, men are willing, I believe, to turn on their lights. And America is looking for those lights--looking through the darkness and shadows to see the signals that will mean there is hope for peace.

We are searching the horizons now--looking for the glimmer of light that will tell us and will tell the world that others are ready to join with us in peace and understanding, for the gain and the good of all mankind.

This is the purpose that binds America and Australia together always.

To this purpose, then--to the purpose of peace and to the friendship between our peoples--I ask you now to join with me in raising your glass, as we express our gratitude for the privilege and pleasure of sharing this hour with our good friend, His Excellency, the Prime Minister.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House.

As printed above, this item follows the prepared text released by the White House.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's Toast at a Luncheon in Honor of Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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