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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 6, 2007
Mrs. Bush's Remarks at President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home
President Lincoln and Soldiers' Home
9:44 A.M. EST
MRS. BUSH: Thank you so much, David. Thank you for everything you do and have done for all these past years to save so many really fabulous historical properties in the United States. I want to thank you for that.
I'm delighted to be one of the first 21st-century guests to tour President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home. I know you all are thrilled to be one of the first guests, too.
I want to recognize Frank Milligan, the Director. Thank you very much for all the work you've done for the successful restoration and interpretive center that this home will be.
I think Lonnie Bunch is here. Is Lonnie Bunch back there? I guess not, maybe not. But we're gathered in the drawing room of President and Mrs. Lincoln's seasonal home. And it's very appropriate that we meet here in this room, because this is the room where the family received visitors. The restoration of this cottage is so well done that visitors may find themselves tiptoeing through these rooms in order not to disturb the President.
While the cottage reflects its original purpose, it also serves the very important purpose of educating visitors about the people who lived here during a time that redefined our country.
And I will have to say that living in the White House, the President and the President's family that we're most often aware of, of course, is President Lincoln. He's the larger-than-life President that we're reminded of every single day when we walk the halls of the White House. And of course, we have that fabulous Lincoln Bedroom, the room that was his office at the White House and that President Truman set up as the Lincoln Bedroom, with the furniture that Mary Todd Lincoln had bought, that big bed she bought for their fancy guest bedroom, called the Prince of Wales Bedroom, because the Prince of Wales had stayed there during Buchanan, the term before Lincoln was there.
But certainly we are always aware of the many challenges that Presidents and their families have faced, and none more difficult than the ones faced by the Lincolns, as he did everything he could to preserve the union of our country. And she, and both of them, faced so many personal tragedies while they lived there -- the death of their son Willie and the death of her brothers who fought for the Confederacy, and just many other things that make us very aware of certainly the greatness of that President, but also his humanity. And that teaches us, in fact, about the humanity of every family that lives there, and every generation that has followed Lincoln in our challenges that each generation has followed in a way to keep our country as free and as united as were his goals, of course.
I want to -- my heartfelt thanks go to the ardent supporters who recognized this Cottage at the Soldiers' Home as a national historic treasure and worked diligently to preserve it for future generations. Thanks also to the people who are responsible for the meticulous research, the restoration and the modernization of the cottage and visitors center. The team covered more than a century of history, and they uncovered nearly as much paint and fabric and wallpaper -- (laughter) -- to produce this finished best-in-class restoration.
The result is a living landmark that proves that historic preservation isn't all about old museums that store dust-covered artifacts, but instead it's about helping people see beyond the pages of a history book, about taking young explorers on an educational odyssey so they can travel back in time and really feel like they've participated in history themselves.
President Bush and I want to make sure that all children and grandchildren of each one of us can visit communities across our country and see other similar historic places and artifacts. And that's one of the reasons I'm delighted to serve as Honorary Chair of Save America's Treasures.
Save America's Treasures has already touched every state in the union, through the more than $300 million in awards for a thousand projects like this one -- maybe not quite as extensive as this one, but many are. And that's a thousand history lessons presented in living color for a generation -- for generations to come, and generations that have also come to appreciate hi-def, surround-sound experiences. (Laughter.) And that's what generations will have in this building for sure.
Last week I participated in the announcement of new legislation that will authorize Save America's Treasures and Preserve America, the Preserve America and Save America's Treasures Act. Both are very important preservation programs. Save America's Treasures supports with grants individual restoration projects, and Preserve America encourage communities that might not ever receive a Save America's Treasures grant for an individual building in their own community but encourages them to also pay attention to their own history and do what they can to preserve it and to be able to enjoy it for their own families and children, but also for their visitors.
The legislation will authorize competitive grants under both programs, and it will allow the two initiatives to continue as a permanent part of our federal preservation efforts. This cottage and the visitors center are perfect examples of American ingenuity and innovation. These best-in-class and proudly "green" facilities provide multi-dimensional interactive presentations of history through the eyes of a President, on location, in the privacy of his own home.
It's not easy being green, especially when the facilities are history landmarks, but it's worth the effort. Now we can appreciate what it meant for the Lincolns to have access to a private life here, three miles from the White House and a world away from the center of public life and the Civil War.
President Lincoln could ride his horse here alone, meeting every day people on his way -- soldiers and even poets. After a few close calls on the way home from work, he reluctantly accepted a Presidential Guard.
President Lincoln made some of the most difficult and important decisions of his presidency and of our country's history here. It was here, as you know, that he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation.
Now future generations can visit the cottage. They can imagine standing beside him as he composed those vital words. And perhaps in some small way, they can feel connected to his thoughts and understand the magnitude of that moment in time.
When the cottage and visitors center open to the public in February, history will be taught on location in this fine, old high-tech classroom, by tour guides and teachers with comprehensive and adaptable lesson plans.
President Bush and I appreciate everyone who's made this possible. And we especially want to thank all the supporters of Preserve America and Save America's Treasures who were there last week when the Act was introduced.
Thank you all very, very much, and congratulations.
END 9:52 A.M. EST