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NEWS | Aug. 31, 2016

JBSA commander honors LBJ during annual ceremony

Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Public Affairs

Every year since Aug. 27, 1973, a public wreath laying ceremony takes place at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park at the gravesite of former President Lyndon B. Johnson to observe his birthday and the contributions he made to our nation.

This year’s ceremony was a continuation of the tradition that was started by Johnson’s wife, Claudia ‘Lady Bird’ Johnson and is now sponsored by the National Park Service. This year’s event honored what would have been the 108th anniversary of President Johnson’s birth.

During his time as president, Johnson urged the nation “to build a great society, a place where the meaning of man’s life matches the marvels of man’s labor.”

“I can’t think of a better location to celebrate these two special occasions, this beautiful land, especially considering the number of national parks that our 36th President touched and the passion that he and Lady Bird shared for protecting our nation’s land, air, water and wilderness,” said the event’s guest speaker, Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander.

Two days prior to the wreath laying ceremony, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary.

“With this wreath laying today, we celebrate President Johnson’s legacy and in his own words, ‘we can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live it.’”

As a congressman and president, Johnson pursued laws that cut taxes and improved urban renewal, environmental beautification and conservation. He also advocated and achieved the Voting Rights Act, ensuring every American citizen would have an equal right to vote as well as two Civil Rights Acts that helped eliminate segregation by prohibiting employers from using discriminatory practices and outlawing housing discrimination.

Pringle also mentioned the love Johnson and Lady Bird felt for their home on the ranch.

“Though Johnson lived in D.C., he and Lady Bird called Texas home,” she said. “This ranch was his retreat and he used it to entertain politicians, advisors and dignitaries.”

Johnson was the first President to create a functioning White House away from Washington. He spent approximately 25 percent of his presidency at the ranch and it is documented that he held staff meetings beneath the stately tree in front of the house.

“Today, millions of Americans have a better and more secure place to live, work and raise a family. As for tomorrow, as long as we understand and honor President Johnson’s legacy, we can achieve his vision of that great society,” Pringle said in her closing remarks.

The ceremony concluded with memories shared from Libby Hulett, LBJ Park’s first curator; Barney Hulett, an Army veteran who served with the helicopter support unit for the White House and as a personal pilot for the Johnson family; and Mike Howard, a retired United States Secret Service Agent who served on protective details for Johnson.

There was also a reading of the names of the 72 national park sites created or expanded by President Johnson. In his book, ‘Vantage Point,’ Johnson writes, “My deepest attitudes and beliefs were shaped by a closeness to the land and it was only natural for me to think of preserving it.”

He goes on to say, “I wanted to leave to future generations a glimpse of the world as God really made it, not as it looked when we got through with it.”