7:44 P.M. EDT
THE FIRST LADY: Good evening. Please, sit down. The President and I are delighted to be with you, all of you, this evening as we celebrate the incredible work of the White House Historical Association over this past year and prepare for our continued work to preserve and restore the People’s House in the years to come.
I want to recognize and thank members of the Association’s Board of Directors who have joined us this evening: President Stewart McLaurin, Chairman Fred Ryan, and Vice Chairman John Rogers. Your entire team has been incredible to work with, and that is a statement to your leadership and vision. I would also like to thank Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary for being here, and for your continued support.
The White House Historical Association has been a real partner with my office over the past two years, helping to fund, preserve, and promote the important history and timeless beauty of the White House.
Our family is grateful to live in this true symbol of our nation’s history, but we are even more honored to play a part in restoring and enhancing our country’s sacred landmark.
It is only with the support and commitment of Historical Association that we are able to continue the tradition of protecting this home, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you. I want to thank you all for being here tonight. This is an evening I look forward to each year.
And now, I would like to take a moment so President can say a few words. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sweetheart. Thank you, honey.
Thank you very much, Melania. She works so hard on these beautiful dinners, and she loves this house. You really do. You love this house. And we appreciate it.
And the First Lady and I are delighted to welcome all of you to our home this evening as we honor the extraordinary work of the White House Historical Association. Very special people. Very hardworking people, and people that work with love.
I want to join Melania in again thanking the members of the Association’s Board of Directors: President Stewart McLaurin, Chairman Fred Ryan, and Vice Chairman John Rogers. Thank you very much. Great job. You’ve done so much.
Thanks also to Secretary Wilbur Ross and his terrific wife and friend of ours, Hilary, a committed friend of this association. And Wilbur had a very big day today. You probably have read about it. It came out at about 6 o’clock in the evening. So, we’re surprised to see you here, Wilbur. You should be working right now, Wilbur — (laughter) — wherever you are.
The White House Historical Association works every day to honor, protect, and preserve the history of this priceless national landmark. Through your many publications and activities, you make the White House and its history accessible even when people who live far away from Washington want to see the White House but they can’t get to do it. They see it through you.
This year, I want to congratulate everyone who helped pioneer your brand new interactive app that shares the majesty of the White House with even more people. In particular, let me thank the Chair of the National Council of White House History, Teresa Carlson, for her incredible work on that project. Thank you very much. Where’s Teresa? Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much, Teresa.
Here in Washington, the White House Historical Association helps to conserve the beauty and the grandeur of this absolutely remarkable place. Last year, with the First Lady and her team, you completed the delicate and difficult work of restoring the Bellangé furniture. Incredible stuff, by the way. Good job. That is restored very beautifully — in the Blue Room, which dates back to President Monroe’s administration. And as you all know, that’s a long time ago.
You reupholstered the walls of the Red Room. And you helped manufacture the rug that today graces the Diplomatic Reception Room. It was designed by Melania, funded by the Association, and very importantly to all of us, it was made in America.
Every year, you also produce the White House Historical Association Christmas Ornament. This year, the design honors President Eisenhower — actually, a great President; people are starting to find that out — the first sitting President to fly in a helicopter — with an ornament that evokes the iconic image of Marine One.
Since President Eisenhower, the presidential helicopter has been constructed by Sikorsky, now a Lockheed Martin company. And guess who we have here from Lockheed Martin? We’re grateful to be joined tonight by Lockheed Martin’s Chairman and a friend of mine, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson. Marillyn, please. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Fantastic job. They make the greatest fighter jet in the world. And you got a problem if you’re the enemy, because you can’t see it. It’s stealth. They have a little problem with that. Right, Marillyn? It’s doing great, and you’re doing great. But you’ve been a great supporter, and I really thank you for that. We all thank you, Marillyn.
I’m also excited to announce that, yesterday, the Association generously agreed to fund the renovation of the curator’s storage area here at the White House. This will ensure that our nation’s historic treasures are properly safeguarded for future generations. So important. On behalf of the American people, thank you for that remarkable gift. Thank you all.
The walls of this very room reflect your continued work. The painting of President Theodore Roosevelt that usually hangs here is currently being conserved. It’s been temporarily replaced with the portrait of President John Quincy Adams.
On the other side of this building, a painting of another American President, Andrew Jackson — he was an exciting President, with one of the most exciting election runs ever. Maybe we beat it; I don’t know. But that’s the one they seem to talk about. Hangs behind my desk in the Oval Office. Beautiful painting.
There, it’s a constant reminder of a President who truly saw this home as the “People’s House” and saw himself as the People’s President.
“Old Hickory” constructed the North Portico, the face of this building. Today, it looks on to Lafayette Square, where an equestrian statue of Jackson — a really beautiful statue — is emblazoned with the words, “Our Federal Union, It Must Be Preserved.” He knew. Those words reflect both the true calling of your organization and all who serve here: We are preserving America’s heritage for all of the people. And this is a truly beautiful building. Truly beautiful building.
The story of the White House is the story of our country and the people who dreamed it, who built it, and who defended it every single day. They worked so hard and they defended it so well.
Every day, hundreds of patriotic Americans come to work here to secure our country’s future. Tonight, we express our tremendous gratitude to everyone who devotes their time, energy, and resources to protect our inheritance of the past.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to ensure this magnificent house will be enjoyed by all Americans for many, many years to come.
God bless you, and God bless America. And thank you being with us tonight. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
7:52 P.M. EDT