Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 8, 1998


Ford's Theater
Washington, D.C.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. First let me say that Hillary and I, as always, have had a wonderful evening. We look forward to this every year.

I want to thank my special friend, Whoopi Goldberg. God's Property was wonderful. I thank all the other magnificent performers who were here tonight. I thank Tricia Lott and Peatsy Hollings for the work that they do, and all the other sponsors of this extraordinary evening. And a special thanks to you, Frankie, for giving 30 years of your life to a worthy and great American cause. (Applause.)

I also want to thank you for honoring the First Lady tonight. She has worked very hard for the last five years and continues to work for the arts, and for the preservation of our national treasures, like Ford's Theater. That's a special focus of our millennium project. And she convinced me that it's something all Americans should do for the 21st century.

President Kennedy once wrote that art is the great unifying and humanizing experience. We are here in Ford's Theater in the shadow of President Lincoln's memory, a President who gave his life for the unity and the fundamental humanity of our nation. And these wonderful young people have just sung a song that for everyone my age will live forever.

John Kennedy was killed when I was a senior in high school; Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy when I was a senior here at Georgetown. Those of us who grew up as children in a time when our national life meant unity and humanity will be forever grateful for the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and what is embodied in this magnificent theater.

Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

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