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Living in a world of many nations, we have many problems. They are distressing. They concern us. They keep us awake at night. But when you look around the world, and look upon the map and you see the plight of other peoples, there is not a nation in the world that I would want to trade problems with.
And while we have dissent, and while we have distress, and while we must go along each day trying to measure up to our responsibilities, we must never forget that we live in the most prosperous nation in all the world.
We have more liberty than any people that ever breathed free air. We have more people working in this country at better jobs with better homes, with better health, with better education, than live under any other flag in any other land, and we ought to be thankful for it.
In the great State of New Hampshire tomorrow our plane will carry us not far from
Franconia Notch, where more than 100 years ago Daniel Webster looked up at the rock formation called the Old Man of the Mountain and said, "Up in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign that there He makes men."
Well, he still does make men, not just in New Hampshire, but in all of America. And that is what America is really all about in the 1960's: To see if we have the people to match our problems-to see if we have the men to match our mountains.
I believe we do. I know Buffalo has.
NOTE: The President spoke at 2:20 p.m. at Niagara
393 Statement by the President Upon Arrival in Syracuse: Conservation
of the Nation's Water Resources.
THE PIONEERS who settled our country found a land blessed with magnificent forests, broad and fertile lands, and great rivers and lakes that provided abundant fresh water and highways for their travel and commerce. Their communities and cities grew beside these rivers and streams. Their pure waters supported growing populations and the establishment of industries to strengthen the sinew of our national prosperity.
But these natural resources proved destructible. The multitudes of our people, and the vast production of our industrial machine, are pouring an ever growing flood of waste products into our waters. Vast
August 19, 1966
quantities of complex products from our technological society are polluting our streams and lakes and, indeed, endangering our strength and our health.
Here in the Northeastern United States, where pure water in sparkling abundance was so long taken for granted, we have learned through harsh experience that those who would command tomorrow must not be idle today in the total development and maximum preservation of our resources.
For those resources, even though bountiful, are not inexhaustible. And they are peculiarly vulnerable to man's abuse.
Just last summer, when drought struck the eastern seaboard, millions of Americans
learned for the first time what those in the arid West had long known-that water is life, and that its constant future availability can be no more certain than man's vision to foresee and his determination to forestall.
The rivers and harbors omnibus bill, which I approved October 27, contains as its very first provision the creation of a regional plan for anticipating and meeting the future water needs of vast metropolitan growth.
In taking this step, we have crossed a new threshold in national policy. We have recognized that the impoundment and movement of our waters, their maximum purification and development to power our industries, float our barges, quench the thirst of our growing cities, and renew the earth from which our food is grown, must be undertaken as a coordinated whole.
No longer will piecemeal or halfway efforts suffice.
Last year Congress enacted, and I signed into law, the Water Quality Act of 1965, to help us control and abate the pollution of our waterways.
In May we consolidated and reorganized the Federal Government's water pollution activities under the Interior Department to make them more effective.
The House Committee on Public Works is meeting almost daily to consider a new and expanded clean rivers bill, already approved by the Senate, to provide greater impetus and financial assistance for our war against pollution of our national waters.
Today, here in Syracuse, the House Natural Resources and Power Subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Congressman Robert E. Jones, has been sitting in hearings to consider new means of protecting the water quality of the Great Lakes.
In the United States, at least 20 billion gallons of water are wasted each day by pollu
tion. This is water that could be used and reused, if treated properly. Today, it is ravaged water-a menace to the health. It flows uselessly past water-hungry communities to an indifferent sea.
Citizens of our largest city, in the midst of last summer's drought, could only look wistfully at the broad Hudson River as it rolled through their city. Clean and usable, it could have provided for all of their needs. But it could not be used, because it was too contaminated for human consumption.
This 20-billion-gallon daily waste of water amounts to only about 6 percent of the Nation's total water needs, when we consider the requirements of industry, irrigation, and power. But it is an extremely significant 6 percent, since it constitutes better than onefourth of the pure water needs of our country. Its loss adversely affects the lives, the economy, the health, and the pleasure of far more than half of our population.
Here in the area of the Finger Lakes and in the drainage basin of our Great Lakes, you have seen the sad spectacle of these magnificent bodies of water beset with decay.
Lake Erie contains at its central core a 2,600 square mile area which can be described, for all practical purposes, as a “dead” body of water. It is so lacking in oxygen that marine life entering the area is doomed. It is a vast underwater "desert," and daily this contaminated area spreads.
Nor is Erie the only one of our Great Lakes beset with decay. It is merely the most advanced case. The water level in all five of them has dropped to the lowest point in recorded history.
Clearly, the time for action is at hand. The problems are made by man and can be solved by enlightened man. They are in many ways a reflection of our fantastic growth, our very affluence, our way of life. But we will not yield to carelessness or
greed in our determination to preserve, unspoiled and unsullied for future generations of Americans, this natural inheritance which we received as our national birthright.
There is enough water falling annually upon our land to sustain us as a nation for all future time, if we are sufficiently able stewards of the treasure to form an intelligent partnership with nature-to impound it, purify it, conserve it, move it to our areas of need, and thus make it serve our future. We are determined to preserve our great national water resources. We shall not permit the growing specter of drought, polluted waters, and blighted streams to rob us of our birthright. We shall develop our waterways, as we are doing on the St. Lawrence
River. We shall harness the power of our rivers, as we are doing at the Dickey-Lincoln School project. We shall clean up our polluted rivers and lakes. We shall preserve this national treasure for ourselves and for our children. Every one of us has this responsibility. With your cooperation, I know we shall succeed.
NOTE: For the President's statement and remarks upon signing the omnibus rivers and harbors bill and the Water Quality Act, see 1965 volume, this series, Book II, Items 587 and 543.
The Dickey-Lincoln School project in northern Maine is part of the Passamaquoddy-St. John River Basin development plan. For the President's letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House transmitting a report on the progress of the plan, see 1965 volume, this series, Book II, Item 350. The report is printed in House Document 236 (89th Cong., 1st sess.).
394 Remarks at Columbus Circle, Syracuse, New York.
August 19, 1966
Mayor Walsh, Mr. Mulroy, one of our great publishers, Mr. Rogers, ladies and gentle
Two years ago I came to Syracuse to receive an honorary degree from your great university here. And I am glad that you invited me back. I hope that I can come again at some future date.
I want to thank the Members of Congress who have come here with Congressman Jones and the National Resources Subcommittee of the Public Works Committee of the House. They have done great work on behalf of the Nation. And I am delighted that they have come here to upstate New York today to continue their hearings to seek information that will be helpful to the entire Government in meeting this very serious problem.
I also want to express my deep appreciation to several other Congressmen who have come with me and have extended the warm
hand of New York hospitality to me. I should like for each of them to stand, because I want you to know them.
They have been very helpful to the Presi dent. They have served the cause of democracy in the Capitol in Washington. And they deserve the recognition and respect that I know you will want to give them.
Congressman Multer of Brooklyn, Congressman Murphy of Brooklyn-Staten Island, Congressman Theodore Kupferman of Manhattan, Congressman Bingham from the Bronx, Congressman John G. Dow of Rockland and Orange, Congressman Joseph Y. Resnick of Ellenville, where we'll be in a few minutes, Congressman Seymour Halpern of Queens, Congressman Bob McEwen of Ogdensburg, Congressman Frank Horton of Rochester.
I want to thank Congressman Hanley for that first-rate introduction. I recognize that Congressman Hanley is a first-term Con
gressman who has already made his mark as a man who knows the problems of his district and he works long and hard for his people. And I do appreciate the chance to come here with him today and to meet his friends and constituents.
I am also glad to have my old friend Sam Stratton with me. I have known him for 25 years. He headed the House Armed Services Committee which went to Vietnam and came back with some very penetrating recommendations. He is a courageous Congressman and he is a true patriot, and I am happy that he could be here with us today. I want to talk to you this afternoon about the center of our society-the American city. Your two very able and distinguished Senators from New York will join us very shortly, but they couldn't leave Washington with us this afternoon because they had to stay there to try to pass a bill through the Senate.
They were successful in passing it by about a 2 to 1 vote which will mean something to every city in America. And I want to talk to you about the cities of America this after
Senator Javits and Senator Kennedy, I hope, can join us. And I want to thank them in advance for staying at their post of duty. and doing a good job.
For 3 years my administration has been concerned with the question: What do we want our cities to finally become?
For you and your children, those of you who have come here in this hot sun, the question is: What kind of a place will Syracuse be some 50 years from now?
As I drove in from the airport, your publisher and your distinguished mayor and others were talking to me about the plans that you have for this great, growing city.
Syracuse can be a community where your lives are enriched. Syracuse must be a place
where every person can satisfy his highest aspirations. Syracuse can be a place to advance the hopes of all of your citizens.
Now this is what we want Syracuse to be. And that is what we want every city in America to be. I think one word can best describe the task that we face-and that one word is "immense." Until this decade, we did too little too late. By 1975 we are going to need 2 million new homes a year in this country, we are going to need schools for 60 million children, we are going to need health and welfare programs for 27 million people who will be over 60 years of age, we are going to need transportation facilities for the movement of 200 million people, and they will be driving in more than 80 million automobiles.
In less than 40 years-between now and the end of this century-the urban population of this country is going to double, city land will double, and we will have to build in our cities as much as has already been built since the first settler arrived on these shores.
What it has taken us almost 200 years to build, we are going to have to build again in the next 40 years.
That is in your lifetime. We had better get started on it and we had better start learning about it and be interested in it right now.
Let me be clear about the heart of this problem: It is the people who live in our cities and the quality of the lives they lead that should concern every public servant today. We must open new opportunities to all of our people, so that everyone and not just a fortunate few will have access to decent homes and decent schools and good parks and good jobs.
This is a problem that must be met not only by the Federal Government, but by every government, State and local, and by all
the people of America. That is why I have enjoyed my afternoon with the Governor of your State, with the mayors of your cities, with your county leaders, with your civic leaders without regard to race or religion or population, or even the name of your town.
I came here today to pledge to you that the Federal Government, as long as I have anything to do with it, is going to meet its responsibilities.
At the same time I came here to ask your local government and your State government and every individual in those places to meet their responsibilities, too.
Now many of the conditions that we seek to tame should never have come about. I think it is shameful that they should continue to exist. I think it is wrong for some people to line their pockets with the tattered dollars of the poor.
So, the first thing we should pledge our selves to do is to take the profit out of poverty. And there are several steps that we can take.
The first one: I am asking the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Robert Weaver-whom President John Kennedy stated he intended to appoint to the Cabinet office if the Congress would create it-I'm going to ask Secretary Weaver to set as his goal the establishment, in every ghetto of America, of a neighborhood center to service the people who live in that area.
Second, I am going to ask the Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Mr. Sargent Shriver, to increase the number of neighborhood legal centers in the slums of this Nation. I want these legal centers to make a major effort to help every tenant secure his rights to safe and sanitary housing if he lives in the United States of America. Third, I am asking the distinguished Attorney General, Mr. Nicholas Katzenbach, to call a conference to develop new proce
dures to insure that the rights of tenants are fully and effectively enforced. And we will have at that conference the best legal minds in this country to work with our State and city officials, with our Governors, with our mayors, with our local councils.
Fourth, I will appoint a commission of distinguished Americans to make the first comprehensive review of codes, zoning, taxation, and development standards that has been made in more than two generations. I proposed the establishment of such a commission in my recommendations and in my message on the cities in 1965. Both Houses of Congress this week in conference agreed to fund this effort. It is coming late, but it is coming. We haven't given up and we are going to get on with the job.
I pledge to you and I pledge to the people of the cities of America that the work of this commission will begin immediately upon enactment of this legislation.
While I am at it, I want to thank the good people of Syracuse for giving to the Cabinet one of our abler and wiser executives, Mr. Jack Connor. He is a proud son of this city. And he and Mrs. Connor lend dignity, strength and ability to the Cabinet and leadership to the people of this country.
I told you about some of the steps that we are taking. But let me be perfectly candid with you: This job cannot be done just in Washington alone. Every housing official, every mayor, every Governor must enforce their building, and their health, and their safety codes to the limit of the law. Where there are violations, the exploited tenants must be assured swift and sure action by the
Not even local officials can change these conditions. And unless you become indignant, unless you people are concerned with. the treatment of the poor in your town, unless you can get a boiling point, unless you