Tj Host

Wedding Ideas & Inspiration
2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities Ceremony

2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities Ceremony


The President:
Thank you so much for joining us
in this celebration of the arts and the humanities. Two outstanding public servants
and ambassadors for the arts are here: Rocco Landesman. Where’s Rocco? There he is, right here —
Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. And Jim Leach. Where’s Jim? Good to see you, Jim —
the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. We also have two good friends
and co-chairs of the President’s Committee on the Arts and
the Humanities who are here: Margo Lions and George Stevens. And I also want to acknowledge
one of our honorees who, unfortunately,
could not make it. Ever the artist, André Watts
had a concert to give in Salt Lake City. (laughter) So give him a big round of
applause in his absence. (applause) Michelle and I love this event. This is something we look
forward to every single year, because it’s a moment when
America has a chance to pay tribute to extraordinary men and
women who have excelled in the arts and the humanities,
and who, along the way, have left an indelible
mark on American culture. That’s all the honorees
we see here today. We honor your talents,
we honor your careers, and your remarkable
contributions to this country that we love. Throughout our history, America
has advanced not only because of the will of our citizens, not
only because of the vision of our leaders or the
might of our military. America has also advanced
because of paintings and poems, stories and songs; the dramas
and the dances that provide us comfort and instilled
in us confidence; inspired in us a sense
of mutual understanding, and a calling to always strive
for a more perfect union. Emily Dickinson wrote,
“I dwell in possibility.” “I dwell in possibility.” And so does the American spirit. That’s who we are as a people. And that’s who our honorees are. Each of you have traveled
a unique path to get here. And your fields represent
the full spectrum of the arts and humanities. With us are actors and poets,
authors, singers, philosophers, sculptors, curators,
musicians, and historians. We even have an economist,
which we don’t always get him on stage, but — (laughter) What connects every one
of you is that you dwell in possibilities. You create new
possibilities for all of us. And that’s a special trait. And it assigns you
a special task. Because in moments of calm,
as in moments of crisis; in times of triumph,
as in times of tragedy: you help guide our
growth as a people. The true power of the arts and
the humanities is that you speak to everyone. There is not one of us here
who hasn’t had their beliefs challenged by a
writer’s eloquence; or their knowledge deepened
by a historian’s insights; or their sagging spirits
lifted by a singer’s voice. Those are some of the most
endearing and memorable moments in our lives. Equal to the impact you have
on each of us every day as individuals is the impact
you have on us as a society. And we are told we’re
divided as a people, and then suddenly the arts have
this power to bring us together and speak to our
common condition. Recently, I’ve been reminded of
Walt Whitman’s famous poem “I Hear America Singing.” And it’s a poem that with
simple eloquence spotlights our diversity and our spirit
of rugged individualism — the messy, energized, dynamic
sense of what it is to be an American. And Whitman lifts up the voices
of mechanics and carpenters; masons and boatmen;
shoemakers, wood-cutters; the mother and the
young wife at work, “each singing what belongs to
him or her, and to none else.” And it’s true that we all have
songs in our souls that are only ours. We all have a unique part
in the story of America. But that story is bigger
than any one of us. And it endures because we are
all heirs to a fundamental truth: that out of many, are one
— this incredible multitude. I hear America singing today. I hear America singing through
the artists and the writers that we honor this afternoon; the men
and women who are following in the footsteps of
Whitman and Hemingway, and Souza and Armstrong,
and Eakins and Rockwell. But I also hear America singing
through the artists and writers who will be sitting here a few
decades from now with another President; the students in
Denver who recently wrote a play about teenage homelessness; or
the kids in Grand Rapids who designed a mural to bring joy
to a struggling community. They’re singing what Whitman
called “strong melodious songs.” And somewhere in America, the
next great writer is wrestling with the first draft
of an English paper. (laughter) Somewhere the next great actor
is mustering up the courage to try out for that school play. Somewhere the next great artist
is doodling on their homework. Somewhere the next great
thinker is asking their teacher, “why not?” They’re out there right now
dwelling in possibility. So as we honor the
icons of today, we also have to champion
the icons of tomorrow. They need our support;
we need them to succeed. We need them to succeed as
much as we need engineers and scientists. We also need artists
and scholars. We need them to take
the mantle from you; to do their part to disrupt
our views and to challenge our presumptions, and most of all
to stir in us a need to be our better selves. The arts and the humanities
do not just reflect America. They shape America. And as long as I am President, I
look forward to making sure they are a priority for this country. (applause) It is now my distinct privilege
to present these medals to the award winners who
we have here today. And as the citations are read,
I’m sure you’ve gotten extensive instructions from
our military aides. (laughter) Military Aide:
The National Medal of Arts
recipients: Will Barnet. (applause) The 2011 National Medal of
Arts to Will Barnet for his contributions as an American
painter, printmaker, and teacher. Widely celebrated for a lifelong
exploration of abstraction, expressionism, and geometry that
marry sophistication and emotion with beauty and form, Mr. Barnet
has been a constant force in the visual arts world. (applause) Rita Dove. (applause) The 2011 National Medal of
Arts to Rita Dove for her contributions to American
letters and her service as Poet Laureate of the United
States from 1993 to 1995. Through works that blend
beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics, Ms. Dove has
illuminated American poetry and literature, and cultivated
popular interest in the arts. (applause) Al Pacino. (applause) The 2011 National Medal of Arts
to Al Pacino for his iconic contributions to American
film and theater as actor and director. Recognized around the world for
his signature intensity of the silver screen, Mr. Pacino
stands among America’s most accomplished artists. (applause) Emily Rauh Pulitzer. (applause) The 2011 National Medal of Arts
to Emily Rauh Pulitzer for her contributions as a curator, art
collector, and philanthropist. The founder of the Pulitzer
Prize for the Arts, Mrs. Pulitzer has broadened
the impact of the arts in our national life by bringing great
works into the public sphere. (applause) Martin Puryear. (applause) The 2011 National Medal of
Arts to Martin Puryear for his reflections on history, culture
and identity through sculpture. Mr. Puryear’s mastery of
wood, stone and metal, and his commitment to manual
skill offer a stirring counterpoint to an
increasingly digital world. (applause) Mel Tillis. (applause) The 2011 National Medal of
Arts to Mel Tillis for his contributions to country music. With over 1,000 songs and more
than 60 albums to his name, Mr. Tillis’s unique blend of
warmth and humor distinguishes him as one of the most
inventive singer-songwriters of his generation. (applause) Accepting on behalf of the USO,
United Service Organizations, Sloan Gibson. (applause) The 2011 National Medal of Arts
to United Service Organizations for lifting the spirits of
service members and their families through the arts. The USO continues to support
members of our armed forces by bringing iconic American artists
to share the sights and sounds of home with troops
stationed around the world. (applause) The National Humanities
Medal recipients: Kwame Anthony Appiah. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to Kwame Anthony Appiah for his contributions to
philosophy and the pursuit of truth in the contemporary world. Dr. Appiah’s writing within and
beyond his academic discipline sheds light on the idea of
the individual in an era of globalization and
evolving group identities. (applause) John Ashbery. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to John Ashbery for his contributions to
American letters. One of the New York
School of Poets, his work has profoundly
influenced generation of writers and garnered awards spanning the
Pulitzer Prize to the Grand Prix de Biennales
Internationales de Poésie. (applause) Robert Darnton. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to Robert Darnton for his commitment to making knowledge
accessible to everyone. An eminent cultural
historian and librarian, Dr. Darnton has illuminated
the world of Enlightenment and Revolutionary France, and
has pursued his vision for a national library
of digitized books. (applause) Andrew Delbanco. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to Andrew Delbanco for his insight into the American
character, past and present. In writing that spans the
literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary
issues in higher education, he has continually informed our
understanding of what is means to live in America. (applause) Accepting on behalf of National
History Day, Cathy Gorn. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to National History Day for sparking passion for history
in students across our country. Every year National History
Day inspires more than half a million young Americans to
write, perform, research, and document the human story. (applause) Charles Rosen. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to Charles Rosen for his contributions as a
pianist and a scholar. Demonstrating a rare ability to
join artistry to the history of culture and ideas, his writings
on Classical composers and the Romantic tradition highlight
how music evolves and remains a vibrant, living art. (applause) Teofilo F. Ruiz. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to Teofilo F. Ruiz for his outstanding
scholarship in history. An accomplished
teacher and author, Dr. Ruiz has captivated students
and scholars by deepening our knowledge of medieval
Spain and Europe, and exploring the role
terror has played in society for centuries. (applause) Ramón Saldívar. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to Ramón Saldívar for his bold exploration of identity
along the border separating the United States and Mexico. In his studies of Chicano
literature and the development of the novel in
Europe and America, Dr. Saldívar highlights the
cultural and literary markings that divide and unite us. (applause) Amartya Sen. (applause) The 2011 National Humanities
Medal to Amartya Sen for his insights into the causes of
poverty, famine, and injustice. By applying philosophical
thinking to questions of policy, he has changed how standards
of living are measured and increased our understanding
of how to fight hunger. (applause) The President:
Let’s stand and give a big
hand to our award winners today. (applause) Thank you. (applause) Well, we are just blessed to
have this incredible array of talent and inspiration
with us here today. We are so glad we had the
opportunity to make this small gesture of appreciation and
thanks to all that you have contributed to us. Each and every day you continue
to inform who we are as a people, and we could not be
prouder of everything that you’ve done, and we know
you’ve got a lot more to do, so keep at it. In the meantime, for everybody
who is gathered here today, we have a wonderful reception. So please enjoy. The food is usually
pretty good around here. (laughter) The music is even better. I think the Marine Band will
probably be out there playing a few tunes. And again, we are very thankful
to all the honorees here today for everything that you’ve
done for our country. Congratulations. (applause)

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