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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
January 20, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks for Inaugural Gown Gift to the Smithsonian
As Delivered
The Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Larry, for that introduction. I'd also like to thank you, Marc, for hosting today's celebration and I would like to commend your staff for caring so deeply about the Smithsonian Institution.

Good afternoon, today is indeed a special occasion for me. I'm proud to be here today to present my inaugural wardrobe to the Smithsonian Institution, on this, the one year anniversary of President Bush's inauguration.

I want to recognize Michael Faircloth, the designer of this beautiful red gown. Michael was always great to work with. He's meticulous about tailoring and fun to be with. Thank you.

The dedication of these garments isn't the moment where they pass into history; rather, it is a reminder of just how alive these collections and this institution really are. Museums are an important part of our life and times - and they contribute enormously to the education of each and every generation.

The Smithsonian affords the opportunity to people from all over the world to be a part of something that may have happened 200 years ago or 20 years ago, or a year ago today.

In this exhibit, more than 900 objects represent the life and times of America's 43 presidents and their families.

While we can't look over Thomas Jefferson's shoulder as he writes the Declaration of Independence, we can visit this museum and see his wooden lap desk and imagine ourselves standing beside him during that moment in history -- and we can feel, in some small way, what it must have been like for Jefferson to compose such vital words on that day.

We can insert ourselves into a wedding at the White House over a century ago when we see the dress that Frances Cleveland wore when she married President Grover Cleveland there in 1886.

As I looked at Abigail Adams' leather embroidered shoes, I realized what an awesome responsibility it is to fill the shoes of first lady. And I can just imagine the White House as it was, when laundry was hung up to dry in the East Room, which at that time had no windows, just large openings in the walls that allowed plenty of air through.

I am particularly interested in the lives of the women who wore these gowns. The women who raised families, counseled their husbands, lived through war and peace in our beautiful White House and who contributed to the lives of all Americans in so many ways.

And, of course, the First Ladies exhibit has special meaning to me because it includes the attire of someone I know and love - my mother-in-law, Barbara Bush.

I am pleased that my gown is displayed next to a gown that was worn 212 years ago -- during the inauguration of another George -- President George Washington, in 1789.

I am proud to present my inaugural wardrobe to this collection and I especially thank the Smithsonian Institution for being such careful stewards of American history

The Smithsonian curators are storytellers, like librarians, and I am delighted that millions of Americans can experience the American story first-hand thanks to your devoted and continuous work here.

Thank you all very much, I hope you enjoy the exhibit.

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