WASHINGTON -- President Johnson set to work today on details of his "Great Society" program for bettering life in America and promoting peace through the world.
He began filling in specifics of proposals in his State of the Union message Monday night for increased action at home and personal diplomacy tiirough his own trips abroad.
The Chief Executive told a joint session of Congress in his televised address that the State of tlie Union was "free, restless, growing and full of hope." He was interrupted 57 times by applause, mostly from the Democrats.
His proposals ranged from a S1.5 billion education program to an invitation for the new Soviet leaders to visit the United States. He announced plans to visit Europe and Latin America himself this year.
Today, Jolinson kept his calendar clear to begin tackling five special messages he will send to Congress between now and his inauguration Jan. 20.
The first will be a message Thursday setting forth a health program "to match the achievements of our medicine to the afflictions of our people." This will include a proposal for 32 regional medical centers, at a five-year cost of $1.2 billion, to "provide the most advanced diagnosis and treatment for heart disease, cancer, stroke and other major diseases,"
Next Tuesday, Johnson plans to send the House and Senate his education package for 1965. Before Jan. 20, he also will submit programs for liberalizing immigration laws, continuing foreign aid, and advancing America's efforts in space.
There will be still more messages -- probably 15 or 20 this year -- to follow through on the wide-scoped, 4,000 word message that Johnson conveyed to lawmakers and all Americans Monday night.
Johnson pointed to two centuries of struggle in this nation and said that in 1965 America begins "a new quest for union."
"We seek the unity of man with the world that he has built," Johnson said, "with the knowledge that can save or destroy him -- with the cities which can stimulate or stifle him -- with the wealth and machines which can enrich or menace his spirit."
Johnson, in his first State of the Union message as an elected president in his own right, said this nation seeks "to establish a harmony between man and society which will allow each of us to enlarge the meaning of his life and all of us to elevate the quality of our civilization."
He insisted this must be done by America as a member of the world community, and asserted that over the past four years the country had advanced within its own shores and in its relations abroad. Echoing the 1960 campaign cries of his slain predecessor, John F. Kennedy, Johnson said:
"Most important of all, in this period, the United States has emerged into the fullness of its self - confidence and purpose. No longer are we called upon to get America moving. We are moving. No longer do we doubt our strength or resolution. We are strong and we have proven our resolve.
"No longer can anyone wonder whether we are in the gi-ip of historical decay. We know that history is ours to make. And if tliere is great danger, there is now also the excitement of great expectations."