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Retirement
April 2, 1986. Montgomery, AL.

My fellow Alabamians, I come to you today in great humility and deep appreciation of the people of Alabama. They have honored me and my family more than they have honored any family in the state of Alabama. You have elected me governor four times. You elected governor Lurleen one time. So my immediate family has been involved in state government for three decades, and I am very grateful. We shared good times and prosperous times. We have seen progress and been partners in that growth of Alabama. During the hard times, we looked into the faces of the hungry and unemployed. And I'm thinking about the days of the Depression of the thirty-two, because I am a child of the Depression. I saw the old South because I was a part of it. I smelled and felt and was part of the poverty of that particular era.

I hardly know what held us together except for the people of our own state and the Southern region of our country are type that could not be held down. The old South resisted encroachment the same as the new South. But our state has come from the depths of poverty in my time, in my lifetime, that none of you have ever seen before. And we have become not only the backward part of the nation that was dealt with in the War Between the States, we are now a part of that great vibrant part called the Sun Belt.

I would like to be part of the future myself. And during the past few days, I have done much evaluation and much soul searching. And some of you younger may not realize that I paid a pretty high price in 1972, by doing what the people of our state and our region and the nation in my being the leading candidate in the '72 primaries when I was at, uh, an attempted assassination took place against me with five bullets shot into me in 1972. I have never used this before and I have never used it to bring about any sympathy for me and my former campaign for the simple reason that I did not feel it was proper to do so. The people of Alabama have elected me governor would not even mention that matter unless I was asked by someone at a press conference. But those five bullets gave me a thorn in the flesh as they did the apostle Paul, and I prayed that they should be removed but they would not.

I realize in my own mind that, although I am doing very good at the present time, as I grow older the effects of my problem may become more noticeable and I may not be able to give you the fullest measure that you deserve from a governor throughout another term. That's because I grow older. In light of this, after much prayer and consideration, I feel that I must say that I've climbed my last political mountain. But there are still some personal hills I must climb. But for now, I must pass the rope and the pick to another climber and say climb on, climb on to higher heights. Climb on 'til you reach the very peak. Then look back and wave at me. I, too, will still be climbing.

And in my melancholy moments, I am tempted to think of the past service as governor and my campaign when I was shot. I may be inclined to do so as Peter the Great, upon the, upon reflecting of the death of his mother when he remembered that apostle said about not too much grieving over these things. But I also recall the voice of Edros. Sometimes, in my melancholy days, I say, call me again the day that is past. And while I may be tempted to dwell in the past and say, "Oh what it might have been," I must realize, as Peter did, Peter the Great did, that it is time to lay aside that we should never return and think about the future. And now I conclude by telling you that my heart will always belong to Alabama. I expect to be around, the Lord willing, a few more years. But as for the governmental and political arena, my fellow Alabamians, I bid you a fond and affectionate farewell. God bless you all. Good bye. Good bye.

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