September 22, 1999

I'd like to invite you to a party, and although it's still a few months off, I want to be sure you mark it on your calendars now.

This week, at midnight Wednesday to be precise, we'll be just 100 days away from the year 2000. According to the United States Naval Observatory, the nation's official timekeeper, the new century and the new millennium won't begin for a full year, but we know, nonetheless, that much of the world will begin celebrating this December.

Here in Washington, we're having a party to kick off the millennium year. We're calling it "America's Millennium," and we'd like you to come.

In anticipation, the President and I created the White House Millennium Council, charged not only with planning the upcoming festivities, but also with engaging the nation in thinking about the long-term significance of this historic milestone. From the beginning, the Council's activities have been guided by this theme: "Honor the Past - Imagine the Future."

We know that every community has a cherished part of its past worth preserving -- from the crumbling records buried in the town hall, to the beloved statue on the village green and the favorite son's birthplace. These historic sites and artifacts serve as living reminders of the ideals and creativity that have shaped the American experience. The goals of the Council are to educate, inspire and reflect on this creative spirit.

To that end, we are awarding the national designation of "Millennium Community" to each town, city, county and tribe that takes a leadership role in marking the millennium. We have launched the "Save America's Treasures" program, which is designed to identify and save many of our endangered American treasures for future generations -- from the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired the writing of our national anthem, to the Louis Armstrong House and Archives in Queens, N.Y.

Millennium Trails is a national initiative designed to spark the creation or enhancement of trails across America. Along with the Department of Transportation, we have designated 16 National Millennium Trails, including the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Underground Railroad, that tell the story of our nation's past. State and local trails that provide recreation, protect green space and reflect history and cultural traditions will also receive Millennium Trails designation.

A series of Millennium Evenings at the White House has showcased the creativity and inventiveness of America. Speakers have included the renowned historian Bernard Bailyn, noted physicist Stephen Hawking, Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, jazz artists Wynton Marsalis and Marian McPartland, and the extraordinary writer and thinker Elie Wiesel.

The Mars Millennium Project aims to engage young people by challenging them to design a human community on Mars. The project will help students consider the scientific components of survival and make choices about culture and governance.

Next month, we will host "Gifts to the Future," a White House Conference on Philanthropy, which will highlight the unique American tradition of giving, discuss the diverse and changing face of philanthropy, and explore how we can sustain and expand our generosity for future generations.

Now, to our end-of-year festivities, which will also be guided by our goal to celebrate the creative potential of America. Beginning on Friday, Dec. 31, The Smithsonian Institution will host a three-day festival for families and children. Called "Millennium on the Mall," it will feature special performances and demonstrations of American heroes from culture, sports, music, entertainment, literature, science and technology. At the same time, "Main Street Millennium," a Washington, D.C., city block party, adjacent to the National Mall, will offer a variety of food and entertainment from local chefs, artists and entertainers. All the events are free, and we invite everyone's participation, especially children.

The President and I have asked Quincy Jones and George Stevens Jr. to produce a spectacular "America's Millennium Gala," which will bring some of our brightest stars to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday night to perform with a 100-piece orchestra and the combined bands, choirs and marching units of the U.S. Armed Forces.

At 11:30 p.m., revelers will enjoy "Unfinished Journey," a 17-minute film created by Steven Spielberg to capture the highlights of the last hundred years of American life and history. Just before 12, the President will address the nation. And at the stroke of midnight, we will all be treated to a spectacular high-tech sound and light display that will light up the sky as we all join in a rousing sing-along to salute the new year.

As you can see, Washington is the place to be this New Year's Eve. It's a once-in-a-thousand-years happening, and I hope you'll join us.

To find out more about Hillary Rodham Clinton and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at