For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 1, 2007
Mrs. Bush's Remarks to the Travel Pool After Touring National Constitution Center's First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image Exhibit
National Constitution Center
10:42 A.M. EDT
MRS. BUSH: This gives me a chance, standing here by the suit that I wore for the second inaugural of the President -- gives me a chance to also talk about this whole exhibit and ask people and encourage people that live around here, or visitors who come to Philadelphia, to be sure to come see this show. It's a traveling show -- it's one of the shows that's made up of things that are part of the Smithsonian, so it's a good chance for people who don't get to go to the American History Museum at the Smithsonian to come here and see these.
I know that the First Ladies Exhibit at the Smithsonian, especially the gowns, are very popular. So I want to encourage people from around here to bring their relatives and their friends who they're visiting to see this -- not only this exhibit, but this whole Constitution Center.
We just saw the permanent show that's always here, that everyone can see when they're here, about the Constitution and the founding of our country. And I found it so moving I wanted to weep at the end of it. So I want to encourage people to come here and see this -- see this show, but also to come see the permanent show that's always here about the writing of the Constitution.
Thanks everybody. It's fun to get to see everything here.
Q Are you enjoying what you've see so far?
MRS. BUSH: I am, very much. This is a really terrific museum, Constitution Center, that's dedicated to the Constitution. It's a great way to learn about it. President Bush and I happen to both be reading a new book called, "The Great Upheaval," by Jay Winik, which is the -- what the history of the world was as our Constitution was being written. And it's a very interesting view of what was going on around the world. We always look at the writing of our Constitution just within this very closed sort of idea of what was going on in our country. But it's interesting to see as our Constitution was developed what was going on -- Catherine the Great, for instance, in Russia, a czarina, and -- while our founders were coming up with this unbelievable idea. And even though after they wrote the perfect document, our country certainly wasn't perfect. It took a long time to abolish slavery. It took even longer for women to get the right to vote. And then longer for the Civil Rights movement. And what it shows us is that we always need to be vigilant about our Constitution and make sure that we are living up to those words and to that perfect document.
Q Do you find inspiration in the lives of other First Ladies, Mrs. Bush?
MRS. BUSH: I do. I'm very interested -- you know, I've lived with the furniture that other First Ladies acquired, the art that was acquired during other administrations. And both the stories of the lives of the First Ladies and their families, and obviously, their husbands, encouraged George and me. And as we read our history and live with these fabulous artifacts that we're having this chance to live with, we're also reminded of all the challenges that our country has faced over our whole history.
I mean, certainly some of those challenges are evident in what we just saw in the permanent show that here, that people need to come to, the challenges of the Lincolns, for instance, during the Civil War; the challenges during the Vietnam War, the Johnsons; and the challenges of World War II and the Depression. All of those remind us how strong the big ship, America, is and how we've been able to overcome these difficult challenges in other periods in our lives because of the strength of both our Constitution and the American people.
Q What do you hope this exhibit gives to people and what the influences of First Ladies are, and women?
MRS. BUSH: Well, we think of our First Ladies only in terms of the First Ladies that we know, that we've lived during the time of. And we think about the modern role of the First Lady. But the fact is, First Ladies throughout our entire history have been very influential both to their husbands, but also to our country. And I think we see that in this show.
But the other thing we see is that they're human, and that these were their clothes, or these were their shoes or these were the plates that they ate from. And I think that's a very, very important thing to remember, that the people who occupied the White House are human and that they suffer -- like Mary Todd Lincoln did when her little boy, Willie, died in the Lincoln bed in the White House. But also that they're very concerned about average Americans and want the American life to -- people in America to succeed. And I think that's shown in every single thing about every First Lady who lived in the White House. And of course, that means that every President was also concerned with Americans.
Q Do you think the show is fun?
MRS. BUSH: I do think it's fun and I hope people come see it. It's fun to get to see the fashions. I know that a lot of -- that's one of the most popular exhibits, the clothes, at the American History Museum, where these things are from, at the Smithsonian -- and that is to get to see the fashions. It's very interesting as they move down in history what the fashions are.
For instance, the Jackie Kennedy dress that she took with her after -- obviously after her husband was assassinated, and then a few years later shortened because dresses were so short. And it does look very short. So it's interesting to see these -- and fun, I think, to see all these fashions.
Thanks you all. Thank you so much, and congratulations to Philadelphia for this great Constitution Center that's here and the way the whole city has always protected the founding of our country here at Independence Park. Thanks a lot.
END 10:49 A.M. EDT