Feb. 12, 1964 - President Johnson went to the Lincoln Memorial today to call for “a fair share and equal opportunity, not for some but for all our people.” Honoring Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Mr. Johnson spoke briefly from the steps of the monument. He was accompanied by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Prime Minister of Britain, who arrived in Washington today for an official visit.
“We stand with Lincoln for union and for the freedom of all men,” Mr. Johnson said. “But the great task remaining before us is to fulfill the promise, to turn the words into acts — acts of private citizens, acts of corporations and unions, acts of churches and voluntary groups of all kinds, acts of state and Federal agencies, acts of the President and acts of Congress.” The American promise, Mr. Johnson said, will be unfulfilled while children lack schools and teachers, men lack jobs and houses, and Americans go without adequate medical care or are “denied their full human rights.”
“We have the means, through law and leadership, through prohibition of discrimination and promotion of new opportunity, through positive action on all levels of our national community,” he said. “We now need only the will.”
Both the President and the Prime Minister laid wreaths at the foot of the massive statue of Lincoln. The President stood silently a moment, head bowed, in front of the statue and the inscription that reads: “In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.” Then a trumpeter played taps.
Mr. Johnson and Sir Alec then left the memorial, marching down its marble steps to the beat of “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” played by an Air Force band. That was the President’s campaign song in 1960, when he was running for Vice President.