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Inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson: Americans urged to fulfill heritage

By LOUIS CASSELS
President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes his second oath of office on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on January 20, 1965, which is being administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren. Standing between them are the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, who will be sworn in as Vice-President. File photo by United Press International
President Lyndon Baines Johnson takes his second oath of office on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on January 20, 1965, which is being administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren. Standing between them are the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, who will be sworn in as Vice-President. File photo by United Press International | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 1965 (UPI) - Lyndon Baines Johnson was inaugurated as President in his own right today and launched his term with a plea for Americans to unite to achieve "progress without strife and change without hatred."

He said that poverty and injustice can be eliminated in this generation but only if Americans renew their forefathers' covenant to build a nation of "liberty, justice and union."

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Johnson appealed for peaceful progress toward a society free of racial or other discrimination.

"Let us reject any among us who seek to reopen old wounds and rekindle old hatreds," Johnson declared, "not without difference of opinion, but without the deep and abiding divisions which scar the union for generations."

"I do not believe the Great Society is the ordered, changeless and sterile battalion of the ants.

"It is the excitement of becoming - always becoming, trying, probing, failing, resting, and trying again - but always gaining."

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Johnson delivered his Inaugural Address from a windswept platform on the steps of the Capitol immediately after Chief Justice Earl Warren had administered the oath.

With his left hand resting on a Bible his mother gave him and his right hand raised, Johnson intoned after the chief justice:

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Following an example set by George Washington, he added four words not required by the Constitution:

"So help me God."

Johnson wore an oxford gray business suit instead of the traditional morning coat and striped trousers.

Earlier, Hubert Horatio Humphrey of Minnesota had taken his oath as vice president, filling an office that has been vacant since Johnson was put into the presidency by an assassin's bullets on Nov. 22, 1963.

Johnson said Americans must not fail now to earn again the heritage that past generations have won "with toil and tears." Americans, he said, "are a nation of believers."

The President said America's enemies mistakenly have awaited this country's defeat in past depression and war but "each time from the secret places of the American heart came forth the faith" that brought victory.

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The President said:

"For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star not reached and the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground.

"Is our world gone? We say farewell. Is a new world coming? We welcome it - and will bend it to the hopes of man.

"I will lead as best I can. But look within your hearts - to the old promises and the old dream. They will lead you best of all."

The President said "the American covenant called on us to help show the way for the liberation of man" and that is still this country's goal.

"If American lives must end, and American treasure be spilled, in countries we barely know, that is the price that change has demanded of conviction."

The swearing-in ceremony began with the U.S. Marine Band playing "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

The Most Rev. Robert E. Lucey, Roman Catholic archbishop of San Antonio, Tex., delivered an invocation beseeching God to "grant to the leader of our country wisdom and understanding, strength and courage."

Opera star Leontyne Price sang "America the Beautiful," and there was another prayer, by Rabbi Hyman Judah Schactel of Houston, Tex.

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The Rev. Dr. George R. Davis, pastor of the National City Christian Church in Washington, offered thanks to God for Johnson's "gallantry and stability in times of gravest peril," and asked "that he may prosper in the glorious task to which he has been called by a decisive will of the people."

The ceremony was timed so that Johnson would take his oath approximately at noon - the hour fixed by the Constitution for the beginning of a new presidential administration.

After the President had taken his oath and delivered his inaugural address, the 375-voice Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang "This is My Country."

The benediction was pronounced by His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America, and the hour-long ceremony concluded with the Marine Band playing "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The inaugural stand on the steps of the Capitol was enclosed in bullet-proof glass. So was the President's parade-reviewing box at the White House.

Despite his preference for an open car, he yielded to the Secret Service's insistence that he ride to and from the Capitol in an armor-plated limousine with a protective "bubble-top."

Three thousand police and troops guarded the parade route.

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Today's ceremonies climaxed three days of inaugural festivities, which brought thousands of visitors from every state of the union.

The three-day celebration will end tonight with five formal dances, each known as "the" Inaugural Ball. Twenty-eight thousand guests paid $25 each for tickets for the ball, where they will hear the music of 18 famous bands but will find little room for dancing.

The President and Mrs. Johnson are scheduled to put in an appearance at each of the five parties.

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