Welcome to the White House!
The President and I are pleased that you have chosen to visit the White House Gardens and State Rooms. Your walk today through the grounds and State Floors of the White House is an experience unique to this country. Only the United States offers, on a regular basis, free public tours of the residence of its Chief Executive. During the past year, over 1.5 million people toured the White House, showing that as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt so appropriately stated, it is a house that is "owned by all the American people."
Many of the flowers, trees and shrubs that you will see today have been planted by, or in memory of, former Presidents. As a part of this tradition, President Clinton and I have planted on the grounds a linden, an American elm and a willow oak. In April of this year, we planted a white dogwood in memory of Secretary Brown and those lost with him in the plane crash in Croatia.
On your tour, you will proceed through the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, along the driveway, through the Children's Garden and the Rose Garden and into the Residence itself for a visit to the State Rooms. Along the way, a collection of photographs features some of the historic events that have occurred at the White House.
During the past year, the lawns and gardens of the White House have been the scene of both historical events and informal entertainment of friends and family. At every gathering, guests sense the loving care that has been given to this beautiful house and grounds by all of the First Families who have lived here.
It is my hope that as you tour today you will enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of this special place and that you will share with the President and me the sense of our nation's history that it evokes.