For Immediate Release
Office of Mrs. Bush
September 15, 2003
Remarks by Mrs. Bush
Preserve America - The Museum of Mobile
Thank you, George (Ewert) for bringing history to life at the
Museum of Mobile. Thank you, Senator Sessions, Congressman Bonner, and
Mayor Dow for all you do for families in Mobile.
I'm so glad to be back. Mobile is one of my favorite cities as you
might have guessed. Last year, I was here to celebrate the opening of
the West Regional Branch of the Mobile Public Library.
I enjoy Mobile so much I brought some friends to visit. Thanks to
our Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, for your service to our
country. Thanks also to John Nau for your leadership as Chairman of the
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
And thanks to the residents of Mobile for making the Azalea City a
great place to call home and to visit. Carl Carmer wrote, Mobile "rests
apart, remembering the five flags that have flown over her. Spain and
France and England and the Old South, grown harmonious through the
mellowing of time, are echoes in the street. Mobile stays in the heart,
the loveliest of cities."
This loveliness can be found in azaleas at Bellingrath Gardens, or
in the vibrant designs of quilts that have been passed down by
generations of African Americans.
The exhibit Stitches in Time here at the museum highlights the
symbolism behind historic quilt patterns. Early slaves made quilts to
keep warm - but they also used scraps of fabric to weave a story. A
beautiful example is the Drunkard's Path Wall Hanging made of cloth
The block-type design was used by African American quilters to
communicate routes of escape northward. The jerky pattern may look like
the wanderings of a tipsy man - but the message to slaves was to avoid
traveling in a straight line to evade capture. Quilts were made with
tied string and the knots in the strings indicated the number of miles
to freedom - while the star pattern represents the North Star.
I commend the museum and residents of Mobile like Merceria Ludgood,
for sharing this piece of history with us. This museum is a great
educational resource - and the story of how it came to be is a lesson
in history itself. Once the house of city government and a farmers
market, this unique building was nearly destroyed during Hurricane
Frederick - but you refused to let it go. More than 140 years after it
was built, this treasure is once again making history. I applaud you
for preserving this historic site for continued learning and
This is exactly the type of preservation we want to see continue
across the country. President Bush and I want every American -
especially children - to learn about our nation's heritage and enjoy
our national treasures. A new White House initiative called Preserve
America will help insure that they do. Preserve America promotes
cultural and natural preservation and encourages greater appreciation
of our heritage - from monuments and buildings to landscapes and main
streets. The Departments of Interior and Commerce and the Advisory
Council on Historic Preservation are strong partners in this
Preserve America directs federal agencies to inventory and promote
greater use of historical sites in partnership with state, tribal, and
local governments. This initiative will provide more opportunities for
preservation while increasing tourism and economic development. Mobile
is a great example of a community that is using its past to build a
better future. A trip through downtown Mobile is a journey in time -
from the 18th century replica of Fort Conde to the modern silhouette of
the Museum of Art.
More than eighteen million people visited Alabama last year
spending nearly six and a half billion dollars - an increase of seven
percent from 2001. And more than ninety-three thousand jobs were
created within the travel industry. The Preservation Tax Incentive
Program has helped Alabama revitalize historic buildings and
neighborhoods. In the past five years, more than seventeen projects
have been certified through this program - with a total of more than
four million dollars in construction spending.
Preserve America supports and promotes more programs like this.
America's downtowns are vital parts of our communities. By ensuring
their success, we strengthen America.
Another goal of Preserve America is to promote the conservation and
enjoyment of our natural resources. Our open spaces are sanctuaries for
learning and reflection. And for the President and me, the outdoors is
a great place to relax and unwind. As a child, I loved to visit
Monahans Sandhills State Park in West Texas. The park is more than
three thousand acres of sand dunes which children of all ages love to
slide down. The dunes actually stretch hundreds of miles and mark the
spot where the Permian Sea used to be. I remember trips to the
Sandhills with my Sunday School class and Girl Scout troop. The
President also remembers visiting the park with his Cub Scout Troop.
Barbara Bush served as den mother for the troop. According to the
President, it was about this time that her hair turned white.
And here in Mobile, thanks to conservation efforts, one beautiful
place children and visitors can enjoy is Fort Blakeley Battlefield
Park. Visitors can relax and learn their history as they hike and
horseback on miles of trails. Blakely Park is part of the Civil War
Discovery Trail which links more than three hundred historic sites in
sixteen states to tell the story of the Civil War. Through Preserve
America, the Cooperative Conservation Initiative will provide 15
million dollars this year to support the conservation of open spaces.
The final component of Preserve America is honoring communities
like Mobile for their hard work. The Presidential Award for Preserve
America will reward projects that achieve public benefits through
preservation. And communities that integrate preservation and tourism
may also apply to be designated as Preserve America Communities. I'm
pleased to announce that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
will begin accepting applications today. John Nau will describe the
application process in a few moments. These awards will highlight model
projects and encourage community leaders to share their experiences
Preserve America will help save our past and ensure a future filled
with opportunities for learning and enjoyment. This initiative, and the
awards and federal support, will provide strong incentives for
continued preservation of our cultural and natural resources. As Carmer
said, "Mobile stays in the heart." And with your continued work to
preserve your heritage, Mobile will stay in the hearts of all who live
in and visit your historic city. Thank you.