Welcome Remarks at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Greetings! I’m honored to be here today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
On June 19, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law which created the National Archives and the position of Archivist of the United States. Thank you, FDR!
Franklin Roosevelt considered himself an archivist and took an active interest in the establishment of the National Archives. No doubt this enthusiasm led to the creation of our first Presidential Library, with the donation of FDR’s papers and part of his home to the Federal Government in 1939.
President Roosevelt described the purpose of presidential libraries when he said “…a nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain judgment in creating their own future.”
Presidential Libraries are not libraries in the usual sense––they serve many purposes. They are archives and museums, bringing together the documents and artifacts of a President, his administration, and his family and presenting them to the public for study and discussion without regard for political considerations or affiliations.
The George Bush Presidential Library journey began in 1993 when the National Archives opened a temporary site at a former bowling alley in Chimney Hill. We stayed there until we opened this beautiful library on November 6, 1997. On the day the research room opened, more than 500,000 pages of documents related to the Bush administration were released to the public. And since that time, the archival team has processed and opened an additional 24 million records making them available in the library’s research room. They continue to release about a million pages per year.
Then as now, the mission of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is to preserve and make available for research the official records, personal papers, and artifacts of President George H.W. Bush, to support democracy, promote civic education, and increase historical understanding of U.S. national experience through the life and times of George Bush.
The Presidential Libraries are a uniquely American phenomenon—a partnership of the Federal Government, a private foundation, and the President’s family—working together to preserve the legacy of the President and his administration and to educate, inspire, and entertain. And, I hope, to excite young people about careers in public service.
At the George Bush Presidential Library dedication, President Gerald R. Ford remarked that “Lest we forget a presidential library is much, much more than a library. It’s a classroom of democracy, a place to find inspiration as well as information. Visitors to this magnificent facility, this library, will find both.”
And President Bill Clinton said “This magnificent library will be a place for scholars who try to understand what has happened in some of America's most important years. It's a place for citizens who want to know right now what went on in the life and career of George Bush. It's also a place from which any person would draw enormous inspiration, a place for the reaffirmation of our faith in America.”
I wish to thank all of the Library and Museum staff here in College Station for their tireless efforts to fulfill President Bush’s vision by helping our researchers, protecting our valued holdings, and greeting hundreds of thousands of visitors to this wonderful museum. It is my greatest privilege to work with such an accomplished, dedicated staff––the real treasures of the National Archives—who go home at night.
In closing, I would like to read a few words from President George H.W. Bush’s remarks at the dedication of this library: “…these records will serve to educate future generations of Americans and give them a broader understanding of how their government responded in the way it did to the challenges it faced at a watershed moment in history. And hopefully, the insights gained and the impressions left by the events on display here will do for our visitors what they have done for those who lived them––make deeper our appreciation for the blessings of freedom and democracy, and make stronger our devotion to them.”