Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's Toast at a State Dinner in His Honor in Chakri Throne Hall, Bangkok, Thailand

October 28, 1966

Our two peoples live in opposite sides of the world. We have different histories. We have different customs. Yet what we share in common far surpasses our differences.

The very name of your great nation means, in my own language, "land of the free." Those words are familiar to every American, for they are part of our national anthem.

That anthem celebrates our homeland as "the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

The people of Thailand also understand that those who wish to be free must first be brave.

Your Majesty's ancestors made a long pilgrimage to a new land, rather than accept subjugation. That is what my ancestors also did. Yours were centuries ahead of us. But when our time came, we, too, chose the path of freedom.

The search for freedom led my own ancestors from their homeland in Europe, as it led yours from their ancestral home in China. The Thais were more successful. Since your first migration, nearly one thousand years ago, the people of Thailand have never been a colony of any foreign power. But we Americans are still less than 200 years away from colonial status.

Considering our history, I think it is understandable why my countrymen are puzzled when someone calls us a "colonialist" power.

Considering your own history, I think it is understandable why the people of Thailand should be puzzled by those who suggest that you are being "used" or "dominated" by Americans or, for that matter, anyone else.

The truth is that Thailand and the United States are going down the same road together. We did not start our journey together. But we met on the road which leads, ultimately, to peace and independence for all nations. We of America are very proud to march beside you--beside you who began that journey long before we did.

Tonight we stand as allies in a common cause. At this very moment, Thai forces are assisting the South Vietnamese in their struggle against armed aggression, alongside the forces of the United States of America.

At the same time, you are making available facilities in Thailand of great importance to the collective effort to defend against Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. Your contribution is of major proportions. We know the risks you and we both run to meet the common dangers. But we know also that we act from a joint conviction of common interest.

Let me assure you in this regard that Thailand can count on the United States to meet its obligations under the SEATO treaty. The commitment of the United States under the SEATO treaty is not of a particular political party or a particular administration in my country but is a commitment of the American people as a nation.

And I repeat to you: America keeps its commitments.

I have spoken tonight of defense. But our common cause is a peaceful one. It is the right of every people to determine its own destiny.

The road toward that goal has been long. There are rivers still to cross; there are mountains still to climb. Yet I believe that the hardest part of the journey is past.

I believe that in the lifetime of men now living, the human race will emerge into the sunlit uplands of peace and freedom.

While I am not a prophet, I would like to venture this prediction tonight:

When that time comes, the people of many nations will bless the names of those who stood fast in the cause of freedom during the days of its greatest need and during its hour of darkness.

And among the first of those names will be Thailand--land of the free--and His Majesty the King of Thailand.

Ladies and gentlemen, the King!

Note: The President spoke at Chakri Throne Hall in Bangkok at a dinner given in his honor by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's Toast at a State Dinner in His Honor in Chakri Throne Hall, Bangkok, Thailand Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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