George W. Bush photo

Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Citizens Medals

November 17, 2008

President Bush. Congratulations to our recipients. Welcome, the families and friends here at the White House.

The Presidential Citizens Medal was created nearly four decades ago to recognize Americans who have performed exemplary service to our Nation. It is among one of the highest honors that can be conferred on a citizen. As President, I rarely have the opportunity to surprise anybody. [Laughter] It is tough to be stealthy with a security detail that comprises a 20-car motorcade. [Laughter] That makes me especially pleased to present the President's Citizens Medal to four outstanding and unsuspecting leaders in the arts: Bruce Cole, Dana Gioia, Adair Margo, and Bob Martin. [Applause] No, no, not yet. Please do not rush the stage. [Laughter] Remember the big security detail? [Laughter]

As leaders of our Government's cultural institutions, each of today's recipients have made lasting contributions to American life and civic culture, and each is greatly deserving of this honor.

As Chairman of the National Endowment of Humanities, Bruce Cole has encouraged the study of American history through the "We The People" program and has helped preserve America's rich heritage for future generations.

As Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, Dana Gioia has combined his passion as a poet and his skill as a businessman to enrich the lives of Americans, from young readers to soldiers returning from war.

As the Chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities—and a fellow Texan—[laughter]—Adair Margo has rallied support for American cultural institutions and has used the arts to strengthen our relationships with nations from Mexico to China.

As former Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Bob Martin has helped preserve our treasured collections and bring libraries and museums into the 21st century with new technology. He's helped recruit and train a new generation of librarians to replace the many skilled library professionals who are preparing to retire. I know of such person preparing to retire. [Laughter]

Bob Martin's successor, Anne Radice, could not be here. This is a stealthy ceremony. [Laughter] She's doing something else. But nevertheless, in appreciation of her service, she will be presented the Citizens Medal as well and is probably wondering why she was not notified. [Laughter]

Each of today's honorees understands that encouraging individual creativity and freedom of expression through the arts and scholarship strengthens and enhances our great country. And so I want to thank them for their service. I congratulate them. And now I ask the military aide to read the medal citations.

[At this point, Lt. Cmdr. Clay Beers, USN, Navy Aide to the President, read the citations, and the President presented the medals.]

President Bush. Once again, Laura and I thank you for coming. I hope you have found this day as joyous as we have. Congratulations. God bless.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:35 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of the First Lady and the presentation ceremony of the National Medals of Arts and National Humanities Medals.

George W. Bush, Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Citizens Medals Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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