About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks Records of Achievement Tribute 2019

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
November 13, 2019

Good evening! Welcome to My House!

When we originally planned this ceremony, it was to honor Cokie Roberts for her many contributions to our understanding of the past and how the past is indeed prologue. In addition, we wanted to thank her for her unending support of the National Archives. Tonight, we will honor and celebrate Cokie with this special tribute.

As a journalist, political commentator, and historian, Cokie Roberts dedicated her life to telling us stories of women and their roles in our founding and in our government. Her work reminds us that women’s participation in our government is relatively recent. Cokie noted that her own mother––who was born before women had the right to vote––became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress from Louisiana, and went on to serve nine terms.

Cokie’s work extended far beyond the scope of well-known politicians and suffragists, often looking to ordinary women and their influence in the age before they could legally vote. She did so much to highlight the contributions of other women. I am glad we have the privilege to honor Cokie’s contributions here at the National Archives.

This past summer, Cokie graciously agreed to give the keynote at our annual 4th of July celebration. Her remarks with her daughter Rebecca and an Abigail Adams historical reenactor brought attention to the forgotten women who helped contribute to independence and ultimately the right to vote. In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John Adams, urging him to “remember the ladies,” and Cokie was determined to remember them as well. She found a way to effortlessly and passionately weave the stories of Abigail Adams and Elizabeth Cady Stanton into our 4th of July celebration and tie it to our newest exhibit Rightfully Hers.

Cokie Roberts was a longstanding member of the National Archives Foundation Board. She worked tirelessly on behalf of our education and outreach activities. Her wise counsel, intelligence, and wit will be missed––but never forgotten.

The welcome note from Cokie ten years ago was the beginning of a very special friendship.  And I am daily reminded of her.  I am in the building early in the morning and late at night and as I wander across the Rotunda level I hear Cokie’s voice in the Rightfully Hers and Public Vaults exhibits, doing what she always did—educating us about our history and celebrating the records held here.

This evening, we celebrate Cokie Roberts and her many contributions to the American story.  I know I speak for everyone at the National Archives in saying that we will miss her passion, humor, and dedication to our history—especially women’s history.  And well will forever “remember the ladies,” just as she reminded us.

Tonight would not be possible if it wasn’t for our partner, the National Archives Foundation, whose generous support enhances the mission of the National Archives and greatly extends our reach. With the support of the Foundation and generous benefactors like you, this past year, we celebrated the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th. We commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. And we remembered D-Day on the 75th anniversary.

At this time, I welcome back to the stage National Archives Foundation Chair and President, Governor James Blanchard.