tv The Presidency White House Historical Association 60th Anniversary... CSPAN August 29, 2022 11:15pm-11:55pm EDT
museum of art in new york. telling the rich stories of white house history has been the mission of the white house historical association since we were founded in 1961 by first lady jacqueline kennedy, he was her vision at the young age of 31 to create an organization that would provide non-tax payer funding to maintain the museum's standard of the house, which had been somewhat neglected through presency's leading up to the kennedys. although the association has developed an expanded over the past 60 years the mission established by mrs. kennedy. still guides our work and our offerings. earlier this month the association celebrated our 60th anniversary with the gala at the temple of dendor in the sackler wing of the metropolitan museum
of art in new york. the evening featured powerful and poignant remarks from first lady of the united states dr. jill biden ambassador caroline kennedy, david rubinstein chairman of our board fred ryan and vice chair john rogers and al roker served as the master of ceremonies for the evening. we had performances from the gray coat fife and drug corps metropolitan opera. soprano brandy sutton and the nyu steinhardt school, which we have a new partnership with provided their chamber orchestra for music throughout the evening highlighting american songs and traditions. this special episode will provide an inside behind the scenes. look it's some of the moments from that very special evening. in this first clip, we'll hear a segment from my remarks that describes the white house connection to the temple of dendoor and why we decided to host the gala in that historic space. i wanted to take a moment and set the stage of where we are
here in the temple of dandora in the cycler wing of the metropolitan museum of art. this historic structure in front of you is here because of a bit of presidential history. in fact, i would say that almost everything we do believe touch and it happens in our lives has some connectivity to the white house the people who have lived and worked there. and to white house history itself and this extraordinary example of egyptian antiquity was brought to the united states as a gift by the people of egypt to the united states of america and was received by president and mrs. kennedy in 1963. in appreciation for the united states help in saving the portion of egypt that was going to be submerged by the construction of the s1 high dam. so this and several other items were saved now. this could have ended up on the banks of the potomac in
washington as some wanted it could have ended up on the banks of the charles in boston as others. wanted but it was president johnson who decided it would come here to new york and it would be in this extraordinary sackler wing where would be protected inside from the elements of outside now it had been outside for quite some time. but president johnson wanted to make sure was protected while i was in american hands. this is 2036 years old and by comparison. we are 60 years as a very small measure of time, but we are honored and grateful to have had those 60 years. thanks to the generosity of mrs. kennedy and her founding of our organization and to celebrate it here tonight in this place connected with presidential history. it was truly remarkable to enjoy the evening in that breathtaking space and it makes one realize how many places across the country and around the world have a connection to presidential and white house history, even if it's not always evident.
al roker did a terrific job moderating the program that evening bringing his signature humor and wit every time he stepped on the stage in this clip. al first talks about the founding date of the association in a way that only al roker could through a weather report before he focused on the significance of the white house christmas ornament want to start with something. i'm kind of used to a little bit of a weather report. the national airport recorded the temperatures 76.3 degrees fahrenheit with winds out of the southeast at 15 miles per hour at midday on november 3rd 1961. because an attorney carson glass hailed a taxi from his office to the district of columbia courthouse. he wouldn't need an overcoat it was overcast but glass would make it well back to his office before the light showers that were predicted arrived at 8 pm. barely months earlier carson
glass had received a most unusual assignment from his boss, washington heavyweight lawyer clark clifford. he had no idea at the time that it would change the trajectory of his own career and actually become a turning point in the history of the white house. he had been instructed to figure out how to create an organization that would help the new first lady jacqueline. kennedy raised funds to restore the state rooms of the white house and also do it quickly which in washington is no easy feat to accomplish that goal glass assembled a small army of professionals who would spend the next eight months doing the legal and organizational work to create what would become the white house historical association and they would spend much of the rest of their careers developing and sustaining so as he settled into his taxi on that that warm and cloudy early november afternoon glass was actually carrying the paperwork that would make incorporation.
of the white house historical association official after months of sustained legal efforts the filing process. he later recalled turned out to be really simple after he paid his car is a cab fare. he entered the courthouse submitted the chair the charter and paid a filing fee of the whopping some of four bucks. jacqueline kennedy's dream had come true the white house historical association was born now, like like many millions of americans. i was introduced to the white house historical association through its famous christmas ornament program for many years on the today show my dear friend and mentor willard scott took great delight in unveiling each new ornament on the today show beginning with the first ornament in 1981. and as i understand it the moment he held up the ornament for the cameras the phones began to ring at the associations small headquarters while crowds gathered outside forming lines that ran along from the association's doorstep.
through the lafayette square neighborhood. we'll get that later. in those days before e-commerce determine customers could not be deterred by whether wind rain snow sleet willard love christmas. he loved america america loved him and his genuine enthusiasm was contagious and maybe in his honor. we should resume this tradition. i would be happy to stand in for my friend and mentor. we look forward to reinstituting the tradition that began with willard scott featuring the white house christmas ornament on the today show. well as you know, the association has worked closely with 12 presidents and first ladies since we were founded by mrs. kennedy, and it was very special in fitting to have dr. jill biden attend the gala representing those special relationships listen now to these segments from her powerful remarks about the white house as
an international symbol. as a museum as a home and also the work of the white house historical association for the last 10 months. i've had the honor of partnering partnering with the white house historical association. just like the 11 other first ladies before me and although this pandemic has kept us physically apart. i've already seen the positive effects of this meaningful relationship. start your organization has been invaluable to my team, and i'm so excited to see all that we are going to do together. i will never forget the moment. i stepped over the threshold of the white house on inauguration day. the mahogany door is closed behind us.
and as we turned around the grandeur of the front hall. cut my breath the crystal chandelier reflecting off the marble floor. the presidential seal above the blue room reminding us of what it all meant. the exhilaration and pride the president and i both felt. the white house has always been more than a symbol. more than an office building or a museum. it's a place that hums with life and changes with the moment. when the capital city was being built george washington decided to hold a national competition to choose a design for the president's house. architects builders and even poets sent in designs they
contained towers and turrets courtly ballrooms and majestic domes. one even housed a throne. but it designed by james hoven stood out not a palace. but a home exactly what our first president wanted. because george washington understood that the heart of this newly created country the values that shaped us and the power that we would harness came from america's families. we the people room by room in marvel mantles and timeless portraits we can trace the steps of the women and men who walked the white house floors whose decisions rippled across the world. and yet in the shadows and
slants of light we can imagine those ultimate intimate moments that affected only those who felt them. the letters written in sitting room corners the tumbling first steps of a grandchild or leisurely games of fetch with dogs on the south lawn. the soft sounds of bedtime stories floating down the hall. first ladies have always shaped the white house from ladybird johnson's children's garden to pat nixon's collection of americana. to the historic revelite restorations and artwork of laura bush and michelle obama. tonight we celebrate the foundation of this organization. the legacy of jackie kennedy a
first lady who opened the white house to a larger audience than ever before. for 60 years the white house historical association has helped us understand the rich beautiful and complicated history that has brought us here. from native americans who once inhabited the lands of the presidential park to enslaved persons who labored to build the white house to the families who called it home. as a teacher i have always believed that education is the foundation of our democracy. that principle is reflected in the executive mansion and in the tireless work to preserve it. you the association help us
remember the past so that we can continue to build a nation that lives up to our own timeless ideals. the pursuit of justice and equality the honor of service. and the strength of our unity. and as we make our way through this pandemic the association has helped our administration continue to connect with the people that we represent through virtual guides and an ever-growing body of historical scholarship. all of you here tonight are helping to -- the next chapter of this work with your time your talents and your treasures. thank you for your dedication to education and to honoring our country's history. since most americans can't yet
visit the white house because of the pandemic. i've tried to bring the white house to them. traveling to almost 40 states in less than a year. on every trip in small town coffee shops and stunning museums i'm reminded of what makes our country special. how it's elegantly unique and ever-changing. and there's always a moment often late at night after a trip back. my head just filled with the stories of the day when we drive up the south portico. the virginia sandstone columns glow in the yellow light and the arched doors open to welcome me home. i think about all the women. who came before me?
and all the women and yes men. who will take my place? oh, i got a clap for that one. i think about how we shape this american symbol. this museum this home. we all write america's story with each passing day. and the white house historical association keeps our history alive. together we will work to open the doors of the white house wider and wider to more fully reflect the distinct beauty of all of our communities. serving as your first lady has been the honor of my life. and i promise that i will give my whole heart and soul to
helping our home reflect the true promise and power. of we the people. thank you. one of the highlights of my role is the opportunity to work with presidents and first ladies to tell the rich history of their temporary home at 1600 pennsylvania avenue, and i think dr. biden perfectly summarized the importance of that relationship. at the gala we announced an academic partnership between the association and the steinhardt school at new york university beginning in january 2022 the association will host a fellowship that will support the work of an nyu costume design graduate student exploring the topic of fashion and white house history. to commemorate this announcement the nyu chamber orchestra provided music throughout the dinner. enjoy highlights from that very special and moving performance.
nyu chamber orchestra. enjoy the rest of your evening. thank you. it's always a privilege for me to work with young scholars who are passionate about white house history, and i look forward to the excellent work and research that will be accomplished through our partnership with the steinhardt school. a few months before the gala. we began working with renowned filmmaker donna lawrence and her team to produce a film that featured the legacy of the association and a look forward into the future. we debuted this film on the walls of the temple of dandoor at the gala. here it began with a vision and a vow. surveying the drab state of the white house environment jacqueline kennedy set to work and pointed the way it would be
a sacrilege. she said merely to redecorated it must be restored and that's a question of scholarship. her effort spurred the creation of the white house historical association organized to gather preserve and share the essence of this remarkable symbol of our democracy and effort sustained during every presidency since and propelled by the creation of the david m rubinstein national center for white house history. fostering teaching research public programming about our beloved national homestead from
the start the mandate for the historical association was to be a private non-partisan partnership funded not by taxpayers, but by historically inspired offerings and donors. donors committed to preserving the nation's hard-earned heritage for future generations through the discovery and acquisition of vital objects and materials and placing them in historical context. bringing to life the greatest treasures of all stories of those who shaped and witnessed america's history from within. the people's house the first step was a badly needed guidebook enabling visitors to now plunge into the story that began with laying the white house cornerstone in 1792. surviving the war of 1812 and countless other pivotal moments in the life of the white house
and of the nation over time supporters gifts have made it possible to weave a tapestry of the american story to the present day stories discovered shared and taught through an extensive range of educational programs publications social media and teachers institutes. the white house historical association and the rubenstein center for white house history continue mrs. kennedy's living legacy with white house historic preservation acquisitions and
education it began with a vision and a vow that continues to sustain us as a nation. you know, although i have seen that footage many times. there's still moments that give me chills as i reflect on the work of the association over the past 60 years and the incredible opportunities. we're going to have working with future presidents and first ladies. he was really a special honor to have the daughter of president and mrs. kennedy at the gala. ambassador caroline, kennedy has been a wonderful friend and supporter of the association and she shared inspirational remarks on the founding and early work of the association.
it's hard to believe that my mother was only 31 with a three-year-old. a newborn baby and a very busy husband when she became first lady. and it's hard to believe too how much she dreaded moving into the white house? the most terrible thing has happened. she wrote to her friend bunny melon the day after the election. jack has won. we have to move into the white house so dreary with all those curtains. she was dismayed that there was no way that visitors or visiting heads of state could learn about american history and thought the public rooms looked like a department store. bunny melon who eventually redesigned the rose garden along with jane reitzman doug. villain in jane engelhard all important benefactors of this museum would be among her greatest helpers and most generous donors to the white house restoration. she said about making a home for
her husband and family and for the american people. she wanted the white house to reflect america's history and art and be a place where families could learn about our country and its leaders. she shared my father's belief that american civilization had come of age and wanted the white house to be a stage where america and the world could see the very best of american arts and culture. both my parents believe that living in the white house was the greatest privilege of their lives and worked hard to be worthy of the honor. my mother established the white house library in white house historical association installed the curator and transformed it into one of the great collections of american decorative arts and painting. and when she was satisfied with the results, she welcomed the public on a guided tour for which she received an emmy. but the guidebook was her biggest challenge. it's hard to believe there was nothing for families to take home as a souvenir of their
visit. she wanted something educational and dignified whose proceeds could fund future acquisitions and restoration projects. ahead of her time. she thought the white house should be beyond politics and should not be paid for with public money or become part of a political tug of war between congress and the president. this the guidebook doesn't sound controversial today, but the irish mafia that surrounded my father were deeply suspicious of her plans. they thought she was elitist and even worse french. and that her projects would cost my father political support. they wrote memos comparing the white house to the vatican and selling a guidebook to the money lenders in the we all know who won. and over time they realize that she had become an enormous
political asset most importantly to her. my father was immensely proud of her accomplishments and their time in the white house was the happiest of their lives. i remember my mother often saying that she found french history more interesting than american history because american history had no women in it. she would be happy to know that that has changed and that she is one of the people who helped to change it. she would she would be so proud of all that her successors had accomplished and the many ways that the white house historical association is reaching americans with a more inclusive and accurate historical narrative that includes native americans women enslaved people and all those who have crossed through the white house doors. i look forward to the next 60 years in the life of the white house and of america and all the lessons. we will learn about ourselves.
thank you so much for having me and the best of luck with your work. we often talk about mrs. kennedy's influence on the white house and her role establishing the white house historical association. but rarely do we get to hear that history from a first-person perspective like we did from ambassador kennedy. many of our 1600 session followers know that the educational mission of the association is housed in the david m rubinstein national center for white house history. so it is no surprise that our wonderful friend david rubenstein was a featured part of the galas program. everybody in the room was moved by mr. rubenstein's powerful and poignant remarks as he spoke passionately about why the mission and work of the white house historical association is important to support the white house that we know is much
different than the one that was originally designed the ones that was originally designed was much smaller in many ways as many of you may know it's changed over the years and in fact at one point it was so dilapidated in falling apart. that was completely gutted completely gutted when harry trum was president and they started all over again keeping the outside. but the inside of the white house really needed a lot of work in jacqueline. kennedy really made that possible by the extraordinary effort. she made that involves citizens in restoring the white house now, why should we help restore and preserve the white house? well the theory of restoration and preservation, is that by restoring and preserving the past we can make certain that we don't make that were made in the past and we can learn and do better citizens for the future. that's the whole theory of history why we study history. it's to learn from the past make certainly don't make the same mistakes and do better at going forward. now the human brain has not yet evolved such that when you see a picture of the white house or a
picture of any historic building, it's the same as actually visiting it you can look at the picture of the white house and get some sense of what it's all about, but it's not the same as a visiting it and therefore if you preserve it more people want to visit it what people want to see what this white house is about and therefore our citizens flock to see it all the time and they should and it's possible to make this white house better because we can provide the resources through the white house historical association to make the white house better now, we have a budget in the united states of roughly every year six and a half trillion dollars and many of you may wonder why we spend money on certain things and i often wonder that myself but in that six and a half trillion dollars, there's no money for the house preservation that has to come from private citizens for lots of reasons, but that's good. it's a good thing because it gives an opportunity for all of us to give back to our country. all of us are very fortunate to live in a country where we have the right to do what we want to
vote to exercise our freedoms and one of the things we can do is to give back to the country made it possible for us to live the way we do and so in my own case i've tried to do that, but i'm really just trying to do it and with a lot of other people kind of going along with me and so i ask all of you to think about what more you might be able to do to help us preserve history help us make certain that people in the future generations can see the wonderful white house that this country has come to know and also think about how you can give back to your country now, i used a phrase patriotic philanthropy, but the truth is many people can give back to the country being patriotic philanthropists and i regard everybody here as a patriotic philanthropist because attributed to the preservation of the white house, and i want to thank you on behalf of all citizens for doing that. i want to let you know as well. that president kennedy would say no doubt he ask not. what the white house historical association could do for you,
but what you could do for the white house historical association no doubt. you can do more. now there is a special place in heaven. i'm learned. for people who give to the white house historical association now people laugh, but why do you want to take a chance that i'm wrong? so think about this. what more can you do? to give back to your country president kennedy ended his inaugural address by saying with a good conscience our only short reward with history the final judge of our deeds. let us go forth to lead the land. we love asking his blessing and his help. but knowing that here on earth god's work must truly be our own in my view god's work on earth includes helping the white house historical association. so if you want to follow
president kennedy's admonition if you want to get the special place in heaven think more what you can do for the white house historical association, and i want to thank stuart mclaren for really helping to revitalize what fred ryan and john rogers the help of white house historical association. it was started by jacqueline kennedy, but for a number of years didn't have quite the spark and the enthusiasm and the energy and the dry that it now has so all of us should be proud to be involved with an organization that is really making a difference in our country and making it possible for when our citizens. visit the white house, they're proud of it and one of the most important reasons. we want to have a white house of people are proud of we want to see show people from around the world when they visit the united states they're going to see our home the president's home the home that is a symbol and the most famous home in the world and they're going to see a home that all of us are proud of because it has history been preserved. it has great artifacts from our country's history and everybody here should be proud that when anybody you take to see the white house. they're going to see an extraordinary extraordinary home the symbol of our country and
really i want to thank caroline and her parents from helping to make this possible because without jacqueline kenny's vision, i don't think we would be where we are today. so, thank you all for coming. thank you for support and remember to help the white house historical association. thank you. we really can't think david rubinstein enough for his support of the white house historical association. personally, i'm very grateful for our friendship and his mentorship of me since i began in this role in 2014. we also recognized outgoing chair of our board of directors fred ryan mr. ryan delivered wonderful reflections on his years as chairman. he concluded his remarks by emphasizing the vital mission of the white house historical association and john. since you mentioned my book. i would with a slight twist. share some words of wisdom from pope john the 23rd.
associations are like wine. some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age. and this is certainly true of the white house historical association as we've heard this evening when mrs. kennedy established this organization in 1961. she had great ambitions, but i think even she would be amazed by everything the association has accomplished in the past six decades and how vital our mission remains today. because of my day job i happen to read a lot of news headlines with some frequency. and as anyone who follows the news today knows. america's democratic ideals cannot be taken for granted. throughout the history of the world. there is never been a system of government that is provided the freedom prosperity and boundless opportunity that ours has this is no accident or coincidence. it's a direct result of generations of men and women who have sacrificed to preserve our nation and everything that it stands for.
across our country and around the world there is no symbol that represents america's values and ideals more than the white house. it's very nature expresses. what is so unique about our country. it is not the palace of a king or the fortress of a dictator. it is the people's house. our presidents and their families have called it home, but always with the understanding they are merely temporary stewards because the only enduring claim to our nation's cedar power belongs to the american people. in this way. in this way the white house stands as a reminder that the work of protecting our democracy risks with all of us every citizen and that requires a knowledge of and deep appreciation for the history of the democracy. we are seeking to sustain and that is why the work of the white house historical association is essential. it's the only organization fully
devoted to preserving the rich history of the white house and carrying the legacy forward for future generations. everyone here this evening is an important part of that mission. we thank you for your support and we are deeply grateful for your partnership as we look forward with excitement to the next 60 years of the white house historical association and the continued success of its vital mission.