Richard Nixon photo

Toast of the President at a Dinner Honoring Duke Ellington

April 29, 1969

To all of our guests here this evening, I think you would be interested to know that many years ago, the father of our guest of honor, in this very room, serving as one of the butlers in this White House, helped to serve state dinners.

Tonight, in honoring his son, I was trying to think of something that would be appropriate, something that has not been more adequately said, I think very well, by the music that we have heard. We have tried to convey our affection for Duke Ellington through that music, and later on in the East Room, when I will make the first presentation in this administration of the Medal of Freedom to Duke Ellington, I will have more to say in more extended remarks about what this day means to us and what it means to this House.

But in this room, at this time, for these special guests, it occurred to me that the most appropriate thing for me to say would be this: I, and many others here, have been guests at state dinners. I have been here when an emperor has been toasted. I have been here when we have raised our glasses to a king, to a queen, to presidents, and to prime ministers.

But in studying the history of all of the great dinners held in this room, never before has a Duke been toasted.

So tonight I ask you all to rise and join me in raising our glasses to the greatest Duke of them all, Duke Ellington.

Note: The President spoke at 10:02 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Richard Nixon, Toast of the President at a Dinner Honoring Duke Ellington Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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