WASHINGTON (May. 15)
A brief but stirring address was delivered here by President Johnson at the convention of the American Jewish Committee where he made an unexpected appearance on Thursday and was presented with the organization’s American Liberties Medallion, its highest award “for exceptional advancement of the cause of human liberty.” The President said:
“I am deeply appreciative of this award for a contribution to the cause of freedom. But to receive such an award from an organization such as yours is a tribute beyond anything I have a right to expect. No people know more profoundly than your people what is really the true meaning of freedom. Because from the experience of more than 5, 000 years you know that the threat to your neighbors’ freedom is only a prologue to the attack on your own freedoms.
“Throughout history, your people have been among the victims of the enemies of freedom. Those who thought they could sit idly by and enjoy their own liberty while that of their fellow Jews was taken away have always had a rude awakening.
“Your organization, through its programs to encourage the growth of free institutions everywhere, has demonstrated the principle of that historic lesson. For you have fought not merely for the rights of Jews but you have fought with equal strength for the rights of every suppressed minority.
“You have defended the Catholic and Protestant and the victims of racial discrimination no less than you have always fought for the rights of your fellow Jews. And this in my judgment is the finest example of what we really mean by this word Americanism.
“I am proud and privileged that you have chosen me for this award on this occasion. I will treasure it as long as I live and will pass it on to those who come after me. Coming from a group such as yours, who have made the path of freedom easier to travel for all their fellow citizens, this award means just a little more for this kind of man.”