LBJ's initial inauguration was in stark contrast to recent ceremonies

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 21 at 10:15 PM

AUSTIN -- Pomp and ceremony have become the norm for U.S. presidential inaugurations. Those visiting the LBJ Library and Museum Monday were reminded it was quite a different set of circumstances the first time Lyndon Baines Johnson took office.

Amid all the pomp and circumstance that comes with recent presidential inaugurations in Washington D.C. sits a simple 5x7 card in Austin. It contains a few typewritten sentences and corrections made by hand. Those corrections were made by Johnson. The words on the card were his impromptu inauguration speech that followed president John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963.

"Thinking about the assassination of Kennedy, and Johnson's first seven weeks as president of the United States -- I think those were the seven weeks of any president we've had," said Harvey Simon, a Boston resident.

Visitors to the LBJ Library and Museum Monday recalled the difficulties Johnson faced - not only succeeding a popular president who had just been assassinated - but becoming the driving force behind civil rights legislation.

"He had a lot of opposition in terms of passing the Civil Rights Act," said Lina Ghosh, a San Antonio resident. "There was a lot of opposition from his own party as well as the other party, but he still felt committed. After meeting Dr. King he was even more committed as far as trying to pass the acts through Congress."

"It took a lot of courage to do that for a man of his background," said Simon. "He had to mobilize the southern Democrats to force through the Senate this landmark legislation that's changed the country. A lot of it was in response to Martin Luther King's leadership. It was a phenomenal time to live through and it's wonderful to remember it today."

Many KVUE spoke to Monday said the efforts of our 36th president helped pave the way for our 44th president. 

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