This is the third blog post on an American president.
Lyndon Baynes Johnson. LBJ. What a messy mystery he was. Most of us forget he was the formidable leader who accomplished so much for the civil rights movement. We remember LBJ for the mess he created in Vietnam.
Here are some of his words (and perspective) when he took office for the second time on January 20, 1965. Until President Obama, LBJ’s audience was the largest EVER for an inauguration. He talked for 22 minutes, and here are a few things he said. You will read his critical realism and vital optimism, as well as appeal to faith.
Under this covenant of justice, liberty, and union we have become a nation—prosperous, great, and mighty. And we have kept our freedom. But we have no promise from God that our greatness will endure. We have been allowed by Him to seek greatness with the sweat of our hands and the strength of our spirit.
I do not believe that the Great Society is the ordered, changeless, and sterile battalion of the ants. It is the excitement of becoming—always becoming, trying, probing, falling, resting, and trying again—but always trying and always gaining.
In each generation, with toil and tears, we have had to earn our heritage again.
If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored.
If we succeed, it will not be because of what we have, but it will be because of what we are; not because of what we own, but, rather because of what we believe.
For we are a nation of believers. Underneath the clamor of building and the rush of our day’s pursuits, we are believers in justice and liberty and union, and in our own Union.
Grateful for our country… praying for our nation,