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Home arrowNews arrow Laura Bush Announces Preserve America Grants Budget arrow ACHP Chairman John L. Nau's Remarks at the Jan. 15, 2004, White House Preserve America Announcement Ceremony
ACHP Chairman John L. Nau's Remarks at the Jan. 15, 2004, White House Preserve America Announcement Ceremony

ACHP Chairman John L. Nau speaks at a podium at the White HouseEast Room of the White House, Washington, DC—Good Afternoon, Mrs. Bush, Secretary Paige, Secretary Mineta, Secretary Veneman, Director Mainella, distinguished guests and colleagues.

This is certainly an historic moment for my family and for me. I am greatly honored to be introduced by Mrs. Bush, the First Lady of our nation.

On behalf of the historic preservation community, thank you, Mrs. Bush, for your leadership and vision in championing Preserve America, and for understanding the importance of providing our communities with a funding mechanism that will assist them with their efforts.

Also, thank you for bringing us together in this historic room in this magnificent house today.

As Mrs. Bush said, this is the perfect place to celebrate our nation's history.

This room appears much as it did more than a century ago, when it was renovated under President Theodore Roosevelt. He was the first great presidential champion of preservation. Clearly, President Roosevelt shared our belief that the purpose of preservation is to make good use of things, not to place them beyond reach.

Our nation's heritage is our common identity and birthright. Our national motto, E Pluribus Unum—Out of Many, One—perfectly reflects our national character and our history.

Perhaps Jose Ortega y Gasset said it best in 1949 when he said, "To excel the past we must not allow ourselves to lose contact with it; on the contrary, we must feel it under our feet because we raised ourselves upon it." The motto of Preserve America—"Explore and Enjoy our Heritage"—encourages us to do just that.

Preserve America is what we are celebrating today.

I know that education is of special importance and interest to Mrs. Bush and to all of us here today. The heart of exploring and enjoying our heritage—and assuring our future—is sharing it with our children, our guests, our neighbors, and every heritage tourist.

Your example, Mrs. Bush, is ensuring that we experience, learn and share our national heritage through Preserve America.

Preserve America is a White House initiative developed in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the U.S. Department of Commerce to preserve and utilize our national heritage.

Today we are pleased to announce two new educational components to the Preserve America initiative.

First, we will hear how the History Channel's Save Our History initiative is working with Preserve America. With us today to highlight the effort is the Executive Vice President and General Manager of The History Channel, Mr. Dan Davids—Dan....


Thank you, Dan. We look forward to working with you for the success of this endeavor. And I think all of you will agree—the PSA is outstanding.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce someone who I have a great respect for because of his tireless work on behalf of history teachers and educators. Dr. James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, has an exciting new awards program to announce. Representing the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Dr. Jim Basker…….


Thank you, Dr. Basker.

Last year, when Mrs. Bush launched the Preserve America initiative, she announced two components of that effort. One of them was the designation of Preserve America Communities. We began to receive the first applications for this award late last fall.

Today we are delighted to make the first eight designations of Preserve America Communities.

Mrs. Bush, will you please join me to present the certificates of designation and offer congratulations to the representatives of these communities?

All of these communities are outstanding and exemplify the goals and purpose of Preserve America. It is impossible to adequately recognize the numerous historic preservation initiatives that make these communities worthy to be among the first recipients of the Preserve America Community designation in one afternoon. But I will note that all of them feature committed local governments, citizens, and private enterprises that value and honor their community's heritage.

I would like to ask the representatives of the communities to come forward when I call your name. And now for our communities—

From Augusta, Georgia: Mayor Bob Young, and honored citizen preservationist Mrs. Ann Boardman.

Augusta, a city of 200,000, was founded in 1736 on the banks of the Savannah River and is the second-oldest city in Georgia. It was home to George Walton, one of three Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence, and was the boyhood home of President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who lived there during the Civil War.

From Castroville, Texas: Mayor Robert Hancock, and Mr. Albert Hausser, Member of the Texas Historical Commission.

Castroville, a city of fewer than 3,000, is on the Medina River 25 miles west of San Antonio. It was founded in 1844 by a group of immigrants largely recruited from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France by French entrepreneur Henri Castro. To this day, it is known as "The Little Alsace of Texas" because its more than 100 historic structures still reflect the settlers' origins.

From Delaware, Ohio: Mayor Windell Wheeler, and City Manager R.Thomas Homan.

Delaware, Ohio, a town of 26,500 people, was founded as a trading post in 1805, and its roots of settlement date to 1808, but evidence of habitation of the area by the Adena mound builders and other tribes, notably the Delaware, are vivid reminders of the area's past. Delaware was birthplace and home to President Rutherford B. Hayes.

From Dorchester County, Maryland: Dorchester County Council President Glen Bramble, and Dorchester County Director of Tourism Natalie K. Chabot.

Counties as well as towns and cities can receive Preserve America Community designation, and this Eastern Shore county of 30,000 where farming, oystering, crabbing, and timbering remain important industries is one of two counties recognized today. Its proud residents volunteer in seven local history museums, including ones that tell the tale of county resident Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

From Key West, Florida: Mayor Jimmy Weekley, and Key West Historic Preservation Planner Diane Silvia.

Key West's 27,000 permanent residents live as far south as you can go in the continental United States, but that is NOT this tropical island city's only distinction. Tourism is already its single most important economic factor, and its commitment to its heritage is evident from its formation of the Old Island Restoration Commission in 1965 and a number of more recent preservation actions.

From Putnam County, New York: Putnam County Legislator Vincent Tamagna, and Hudson River Valley Institute Director James M. Johnson.

Putnam County is located in the magnificent Hudson River Valley only 60 miles from New York City and has a population of 84,000. It contains an exceptional range of heritage resources, from well-preserved 19th-century towns and the site of Benedict Arnold's surrender—to the home and studio of 20th century designer Richard Wright.

From Steamboat Springs, Colorado: City Council President Paul A. Strong, and Arianthe Stettner, President of Historic Routt County.

Steamboat Springs, a community of 6,700 first settled in 1874 largely because of the lure of the more than 150 thermal springs in the area, is known for winter sports, but here winter sports are a historic activity dating back to the early 1900s. The city has revitalized its historic downtown and is making heritage tourism another strong reason to visit and live here as it becomes a historic attraction in the midst of magnificent natural beauty.

From Versailles, Kentucky: Mayor Fred Siegelman, and State Historic Preservation Officer and Executive Director of the Kentucky Heritage Council, David Morgan.

Versailles, with a population of 7,300, is located in the renowned and historic Bluegrass Region of central Kentucky and was established in 1792. A participant in the Kentucky Renaissance and Main Street Programs, in just four years it attracted almost a million dollars in grant funds and more than $12 million in private investment.

I would also like to add a comment about David Morgan's efforts. David, you have guided and provided leadership for Kentucky's extraordinary efforts regarding the Preserve America Community program. While Versailles is the first Kentucky community to be designated, David visited with us at the National Trust for Historic Preservation annual conference in Denver early last October. He wanted Kentucky to be a national leader in this effort, and working with his Main Street Communities, Kentucky communities to date have submitted 40 community applications that are now under review.

So while Versailles is recognized this afternoon, it represents a statewide effort that is foremost among Preserve America communities. Thank you, David for your commitment to Preserve America.

And congratulations to all of our first Preserve America Community designees.

For more information, contact Bruce Milhans at (202) 606-8513 or

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Posted January 16, 2004

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