Yesterday, Five Presidents of the United Stated dedicated the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were joined by their lovely first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter. This auspicious occasion was held outside the entry of the library and museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
The crowd started flooding in before 8:00 a.m. Thousands of people (world leaders, contributors, press, faculty and students) made their way through long lines at the magnetometers (metal detectors). All bags were searched. Some bodies were scanned with hand wands.
The audience closest to the stage included notables such as Former Secretary of State Collin Powell, presidential advisers Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, and Dallas Cowboy great Troy Aikman.
Before the dedication began, soprano singer Angela Turner Wilson sang God Bless American. It was a beautiful rendition. No expense was spared for getting a performer who can not only sing the song, but raise the bar on how it should be sung.
The dedication began with a welcome from Chairman of the George W. Bush Foundation Board of Directors Donald L. Evans. He gave a general overview of the center and the construction, which began over two years ago. Evans said the library and museum, and also the George W. Bush Institute, will be a place for thinkers and doers.
The U.S. Army Band marched horn and percussion players across the roof of the building just above the lettering George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The performers were decked out in dark blue dress uniforms with a lighter blue pants and a cap with a red top and black brim. Each performer was sporting their service medals. They all stood in a nearly perfectly spaced line across the top.
The U.S. Army Band began planing as the former vice president and former first children were introduced. Former Vice President Dick Cheney looked well as he walked across the stage wearing a dark suit and light cowboy hat. He was followed by Lucy B. Johnson, Lynda Johnson Robb, Trisha Nixon Cox, Susan Ford Bales, and Michael Reagan, who garnered some extra applause for the memory of his father.
The music change for the introductions of the first ladies. First out was current First Lady Michelle Obama followed by former first ladies Laura Bush, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter.
The U.S. Army Band played Hail to the Chief as the presidents were introduced. President Barack Obama (2009-) was introduced first followed by former presidents George W. Bush (2001-09), Bill Clinton (1993-2001), George H. W. Bush (1989-1993) and Jimmy Carter (1977-81). The elder Bush was pushed in a wheelchair by a U.S. Marine.
The invocation was delivered by Rev. Mark Craig followed by the presentation of the colors. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by First Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell, U.S. Army. Stockwell was the first woman to lose a limb in the Iraq War. Her prosthetic limb was painted in red, white and blue. She exited the stage on the arm of a U.S. Marine.
Chair of the George W. Bush Advisory Board Dr. Condoleeza Rice introduced key dignitaries (global, national and local) in attendance. They included:
- President Mikheil Saakashvilli and Mrs. Sandra E. Roelofs (Georgia)
- President Josè Marìa Aznar (Spain)
- President John Kufuor (Ghana)
- President Lee Myung-bak and Mrs. Yoon-ok Kim (Korea)
- President Francisco Flores Perèz and Mrs. Lourdes Maria Rodriguez de Flores (El Salvador)
- Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (Italy)
- Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mrs. Cherie Blair (United Kingdom)
- Prime Minister and Mrs. John Howard (Australia)
- Prime Minister and Mrs. Ehud Olmert (Israel)
- Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (NATO)
- His Royal Hiness Bandar Bin Fultan (Saudia Arabia)
- And many Ambassadors to the United States
National and local leaders included:
- Gov. Rick Perry, TX
- Gov. Jan Brewer, AZ
- Gov. Chris Christy, NJ
- Former Gov. Bob Riley, AL
- Former Gov. John Engler, MI
- Sen. Ted Cruze, TX
- Sen. John Cornyn, TX
- Former Sen. Bill Frist
- Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, TX
- Speaker of the House, Congressman John Boehner
- Congresswoman Kay Granger, TX
- Congressman Michael Burgess
- Congressman Pete Sessions
- Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst
- Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings
- Highland Park Mayor Joel Williams
- University Park Mayor Richard Davis
Dr. Rice exited the state on the arm of a U.S. Marine. The U.S. Army Band marched off the roof. A video about the construction of the George W. Bush Presidential Center was played.
Chairman of the George W. Bush Foundation Board of Directors Donald L. Evans and Archivist of the United Stated David Ferriero entered the stage. Evans present Ferriero with the key to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Former First Lady Laura Bush, a clear favorite with the crowd, was the first of the presidential couples to speak. Here are highlights from all the speeches (some long and some short) in the order in which they spoke.
Former First Lady Laura Bush
“Nothing says an exciting get together more than an invitation to come and see millions of documents from someone else’s time in office.”
“A presidential library is not about one president. Each library is about our nation and the world during that time.”
“Presidential libraries belong to all Americans.“
The U.S. Army Band performs America the Beautiful.
Former President Jimmy Carter
Carter described a favorite cartoon in the New Yorker magazine.
“Little boy looking up at his father and says, ‘Daddy, when I grow up I want to be a former president.’ Four of us have already made that goal and one of us is still working on it. It is a wonderful thing.”
Former President George H.W. Bush
From his wheelchair Bush gave the following brief remarks with a trembling voice:
“It’s a beautiful day in Dallas. It’s a great pleasure to be here to honor our oldest son. This is very special for Barbara and me. Thank you all for coming. And for all those who make this museum possible, we thank you especially. And we are glad to be here. God bless American and thank you very much.”
After a round of applause, President Bush briefly stands with the assistance of Former First Lady Barbara Bush and Former President George W. Bush, which incites more applause and a warm smile on the elder president’s face.
Former President Bill Clinton
“I told President Obama that this was the latest, grandest example of the eternal struggle of former presidents to rewrite history.”
Clinton described his close relationship with the Bush family and that he was considered their black sheep son.
“My mother told me not to talk too long today. Barbara, I will not let you down.”
“A couple of times a year in his second term George Bush would call me just to talk politics. And a chill went up and down my spine when Laura said that all their records were digitized. Good God, I hope there are no records of those conversations in this vast and beautiful building.”
“Your mother showed me some of your landscapes and animal paintings. And I though they were great. Really great. And I seriously considered calling you and asking you to do a portrait of me until I saw the results of your sister’s half emailed. Those bathroom sketches are wonderful but not at my age. I think I should keep my suit.”
President Barack Obama
“This is a Texas size party and that’s worthy of what we are here to do today. Honor the life and legacy of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush.”
“When all the living former presidents are together it’s a special day for our democracy.”
“We’ve been call the world’s most exclusive club. And we do have a pretty nice club house. But the truth is our club is more like a support group.”
“No matter how much you think you are ready to assume the office of the president, it’s impossible to truly understand the nature of the job until it’s yours.”
“Being president above all is a humbling job.”
“I’m honored to be part of today’s celebration. Mr. President, for your service, for your courage, for your sense of humor, and most of all for your love of the country, thank you very much. From all the citizens of the United States of American, God Bless you and God Bless these United States.”
U.S. Army Band performs Glory, Glory Hallelujah. A video about George and Laura Bush is played on the video screens.
Former President George W. Bush
“There was a time in my life when I wasn’t likely to be found at a library much less founding one.”
“This beautiful building has my name above the door, but it belongs to you.”
“I am very grateful for President and Mrs. Obama for making this trip. Unlike the other presidents here he actually has a job.”
“I appreciate my fellow members of the former presidents club: 41, 42 and 39.”
“From the day I asked Dick to run with me he served with loyalty, principle and strength. I am proud to call you friend.”
“History is going to show that I served with great people.”
“This is the first time in American History that parents have seen their son’s presidential library. Mother, I promise to keep my area clean.”
“41, it is awesome that you are here today.”
“Not so long ago this campus was home to a beautiful west Texan name Laura Welch. When she earned her degree in Library Science, I’m not sure this day is exactly what she had in mind.”
“I believe freedom is a gift from God and the hope of every human heart.”
“I dedicate this library with an unshakable faith in the future of our country”.
Star Spangle Banner performed by the U.S. Army Band. The benediction was given by Captain Stanley W. Fornea, U.S. Navy and the colors were retired. The presidents and first ladies depart stage. Jimmy Carter was the last to leave.
George W. Bush Presidential Center
The George W. Bush Presidential Center is made up of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the George W. Bush Institute. It is the thirteenth presidential library and museum managed by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. The complex sits on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The Bush Center will open to the public on May 1, 2013. Purchasing advanced tickets online is suggested.
Related Posts and Links
Preview of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum – April 24, 2013
The National Archives Announces Bush Museum and Library Opening – April 16, 2013