INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (UPI) -- President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill here Friday and dedicated it to Harry S. Truman, the former president who "planted the seeds of compassion" 20 years ago.
Johnson said that perhaps Truman alone could know how grateful he was to be able to sign Medicare, one of the top items on Johnson's legislative program. Truman first proposed health care plane for the elderly attached to Social Security but failed to win congressional passage.
The signing took place at the Truman Library with Johnson using 72 pens, giving the first two to the 81-year-old Truman and his wife, Bess.
Truman, walking with a cane and showing his years, said the bill meant a new day for older Americans "who have served their tours of duty and moved to the sidelines."
"I am glad to have lived this long ... to witness the signing of the medical care bill," Truman said during the televised half-hour ceremony. "Thanks to all of you for coming here -- this is an honor I have not had ... for quite a while."
Johnson said the bill allowed every citizen, in his productive years, to "insure himself against the ravages of illness in old age."