President Trump Presents the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal

President Trump Presents the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal

December 4, 2019 100 By Bernardo Ryan


The President:
Thank you very much. Please. The First Lady and I would
just like to welcome everyone to the White
House, a special place. It’s very, very special. No matter where you go in
the world, this is one of those places that
you never forget. This afternoon, it is
my immense privilege to present our nation’s
highest honors for contributions to American
art and culture: the National Medal of Arts and
the National Humanities Medal. Please join me in
congratulating each of today’s recipients on
their really — and I mean truly phenomenal
achievement. It’s an incredible
achievement. And congratulations
to all. (applause) With us today
are Vice President Mike Pence. Mike, thank you very much. Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Secretary Betsy DeVos. Thank you very
much, Betsy. Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, and a great warrior and a
man who has done some incredible things
two weeks ago. Al-Baghdadi. He did a very great job. Al-Baghdadi, the terrorist
leader, the head of ISIS, is dead. Thank you very
much, Mark Milley. Please stand up, Mark. (applause) Thank you. Also with us is a friend
of ours and a great congressman and a warrior
in his own right: Congressman Phil Roe. Phil? Thank you, wherever
you may be. Thank you,
Phil, very much. Along with the Chairman of
the National Endowment for the Arts, Mary Anne
Carter, and the Chairman of the National Endowment
of the Humanities, Jon Peede. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. (applause) Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. Great nations produce
great thinkers, artists, musicians, and scholars
who make our world a more beautiful, enlightened,
and joyful place. Each of today’s recipients
has made outstanding contributions to American
society, culture, and life. They exemplify the genius,
talent, and creativity of our exceptional nation. (“Midnight Cowboy” song is
played.) (applause) I want to hear that whole song,
but I don’t know, Jon, maybe we got to get it
moving a little bit. (laughter) But what a
— what a great movie. You’ve made some of the
greatest movies of all time. Thank you very much. Actor and friend Jon
Voight is one of America’s greatest living
legends in cinema. He has captivated
audiences for more than half a century, starring
in dozens of Hollywood blockbusters, including
“Midnight Cowboy,” “Coming Home,” “Mission
Impossible,” and “National Treasure.” And another one — I
think it’s, frankly, the greatest boxing movie of
all time — “The Champ.” And that was
some great movie. Everyone was crying
at that movie. I tried not to, Jon —
(laughter) — but wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy
— “The Champ.” And that was with
Ricky Schroder, right? Ricky Schroder. A really great job. That was incredible. Jon is an actor of
astonishing range and depth. As the memorable Ed
Gentry, he played one of the leading roles in
“Deliverance” — another great one. He became an investigative
reporter tracking down Nazi war criminals
in the “Odessa File.” And inhabited the role of
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in
“Pearl Harbor.” He was so great. And he masterfully played
Howard Cosell in “Ali.” That was not an easy role. I know Howard very well. I knew him very well. Jon captures the
imagination of the audiences and dominates
almost every single scene he’s in. He’s a special person. He won the Academy Award
for Best Actor, earned four Oscar nominations
and four Golden Globes. Jon Voight, you are an
amazing artist and a beloved icon of
the American film. Congratulations. Receiving the National
Medal of Arts is a tremendous, tremendous
achievement. And you deserve it. We’re really — we
love having you here, especially since it’s
somebody that I happen to really like. (laughter) So, thank
you very much, Jon. Congratulations. (applause) Sharon
Rockefeller has been a strong advocate for
the arts and public broadcasting. The First Lady of West
Virginia, Sharon fought on behalf of the state’s
schoolchildren and served on the board of the West
Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority. She is currently Chairman
of the Board of Trustees for the National Gallery
of Art, and has helped the institution acquire
breathtaking works of beauty. Some of the best
anywhere in the world. Sharon has also served
as President of the Washington Educational
Telecommunications Association for 30 years. She helped establish WETA
as one of the preeminent public broadcasting
networks in the nation, producing “PBS NewsHour”
and “Washington Week,” among other programming. And now, maybe I’ll
start getting some good publicity on those
particular shows, Sharon. Could you please start
working on that, Sharon? (laughter) They tend to
be on the other side of things a little bit. I think now I have
a better chance. Sharon, as you receive the
National Medal of Arts, we thank you for enriching
the lives of millions. And I want to thank you
very much for being here, Sharon. Great job you’ve done. (applause) Incredible job. Another friend of mine,
author James Patterson, is one of the most prolific
and talented fiction writers of all time. James has authored or
co-authored 277 books and sold more than 400
million copies worldwide. And I always tell James
that I don’t talk about the books that I’ve done,
when I’m in his presence, because he’s
outdone me by a lot. You’ve sold a lot
more books than me — (laughter) — and I guess
you’ve sold a lot more books than anyone
but maybe one. I don’t know, the
Bible, I think, has you. Right, James? The Bible has you by
a little bit, right? But James is most prolific
and highly, highly talented. Two hundred and eighteen
of his titles have earned a spot on the New York
Times bestseller list, and 95 of them have been
ranked number one. From “Alex Cross” to
“Invisible,” James has entertained adults and
children alike with gripping action, stirring
adventure, and thrilling mystery. He’s also given millions
of dollars and countless books to charity. James, I want to just
congratulate you. I know him so well, and
he’s a special, special man with a very,
very special family. So, congratulations on
receiving the National Humanitaries
[Humanities] Medal. And I want to just
congratulate you because it’s fantastic. (applause) Fantastic job. Fantastic job. Thanks, James. Alison Krauss — (“Down in
the River to Pray” song begins to play.) The
President: Oh, I like the music better. Go ahead. (laughter) (“Down in the
River to Pray” continues to play.) The President:
Alison Krauss is one of the most acclaimed
musicians in America. She picked up a fiddle for
the first time at the age five, signed her first
record at 14, and earned her first Grammy at 19. During a career spanning
over three decades, Alison has never been confined
to one musical genre or style. She has received more than
25 top awards for gospel, country, and bluegrass. She has sold over 12
million records worldwide; won more Grammys than
any woman in history. Wow, that’s pretty good. (laughter) That’s a big —
that’s a big statement. Look how shy she is. (laughter) And today, we
proudly present her the National Medal of Arts. And, Alison, I want to
thank you very much for sharing your wonderful
gift with the world. Thank you very much. It’s fantastic. (applause) Chef and
restauranteur Patrick O’Connell is a preeminent
culinary artist and a trailblazing
industry pioneer. Patrick showcases the
brilliance of American technique, the depth of
American ingredients, and the limitless potential of
American high cuisine at its absolute finest. In 1978, Patrick opened
The Inn at Little Washington in the small
rural town of Washington, Virginia. Patrick transformed the
former gas station into one of the most renowned
fine-dining establishments on Earth. For the past two years,
The Inn at Little Washington has been one
of the — just handful of restaurants in America to
receive three Michelin stars. Every day, Patrick and
his team pursue absolute perfection. They are true artists who
fill us with pride in our national cuisine. Patrick, as we award you
the National Humanities Medal — a very special,
very powerful award — we thank you and your entire
team for the enduring contribution to
American culture. And I think the First Lady
and I will have to stop by very soon — (laughter) —
because it sounds good to me, and I’ve heard
incredible things. Thank you very much. Thank you,
Patrick, very much. (applause) Thank
you very much. Thank you, Patrick. I’d like to acknowledge
the extremely talented White House chefs here
this afternoon, including Tommy Kurpradit. Where is Tommy? Tommy, you have
to be around here. Tommy? Thank you, Tommy. What a job you do. You do too good a job,
as far as I’m concerned. (laughter) Who once worked
under Patrick at The Inn. And as one of America’s
leading think tanks, the Claremont Institute
has made invaluable contributions to the
history of American conservative thought. Claremont educates,
reminds, and informs Americans about the
founding principles that have made our country the
greatest nation anywhere on Earth. Through publications,
seminars, and scholarship, they fight to “recover the
American idea”; I know it well. By teaching about
the Declaration of Independence, the
Constitution, the writings of Abraham Lincoln —
whose bedroom is right above us. It’s a great thing to see
that bedroom — isn’t it, General? Isn’t that something? The General went up and
saw it recently, and it’s something very special. The Claremont Institute
helps preserve our national traditions for
generations to come. Accepting the National
Humanities Medal on behalf of the organization is
Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams. Thank you very much,
Ryan, for being here. Thank you. Great job. (applause) Teresa Lozano
Long is an extraordinary philanthropist and
supporter of education and the arts. With her husband Joe,
she has given over $130 million to universities
and cultural organizations in Texas. They created the Teresa
Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at
the University of Texas, in Austin, which helps
maintain one of the best archives on Latin American
history anywhere in the world. Teresa was also the first
Hispanic American to receive a doctorate in
health and physical education from the
University of Texas, in Austin. She has also served as a
member of the National Council on the Arts. Teresa, we are so
honored to have you. And it’s a great privilege
to present you the National Humanities Medal. Thank you very
much, Teresa. (applause) (“Stars and
Stripes Forever” song is played.) Thank
you very much. So, next, I have the honor
to recognize not just one, but 6,656 tremendous
artists and patriots: the musicians of the United
States Military. That is really something,
the job you do. Thank you very much. Forming 136 bands
worldwide, these awe-inspiring men and
women in uniform perform over 35,000 times each
year, from concert halls to warzones. They touch the hearts of
service members of the frontlines, wounded
veterans in hospitals, Gold Star Families at
military funerals, and Americans everywhere. They’re not just magnis-
— magnificent performers — and they really are the
finest anywhere in the world — they’re also
courageous warriors. We’re joined this
afternoon by the Premier Band Commanders. And accepting the National
Medal of Arts on behalf of all military musicians is
now 21-year-old — then 19-year-old when he joined
— Staff Sergeant Jan Knutson, the youngest
Premier Band musician in the United
States military. And thank you very
much, Staff Sergeant. We appreciate it
that you’re here. And I will say that I
have had the privilege of listening to — along with
the First Lady and many of the people in the room —
Vice President — some of the greatest music
I’ve ever listened to. These are incredibly
talented musicians. Many of them could be in
the great concert halls of the world, but this is
what they want and this is where they want to be. And they wouldn’t
trade it for anything. I think we can say
that with surety. The recipients of today’s
awards have uplifted the mind, spirit, and
soul of this country. You have made the life of
our nation more rewarding, entertaining,
and fulfilling. You have brought joy,
comfort, and meaning to the homes and hearts of
countless Americans. I want to congratulate
you all, and I want to congratulate
your loved ones. We’re immensely grateful
for everything you’ve done for our country. And I would like, now, to
ask the military aide to come forward and to please
read the citations. Thank you. MILITARY AIDE: Alison
Krauss for making extraordinary
contributions to American music, blending bluegrass,
folk, gospel, and country into a unique style. She has entertained and
enriched the souls of millions. (The National Medal of
Arts is presented.) (applause) Sharon Percy
Rockefeller for being a renowned champion of the
arts, a generous supporter of charity, and a
pioneer of new ideas and approaches in the
field of public policy. (The National Medal of
Arts is presented.) (applause) The musicians
of the United States military for personifying
excellence in music and service to country. For -from concert halls
to warzones, these extraordinary patriots
have inspired and uplifted their fellow Americans
over generations with their incredible courage
and breathtaking musical talent. (The National Medal of
Arts is presented.) (applause) Jon Voight for
his exceptional capacity as an actor to portray
deeply complex characters. Captivating audiences, he
has given us insights into the richness of the
human mind and heart. (The National Medal of
Arts is presented.) (applause) The Claremont
Institute for championing the nation’s founding
principles and enriching American minds. Its publications and
public events have deepened our understanding
and appreciation of American freedom,
democracy, justice, and rule of law. (The National Humanities
Medal is presented.) (applause) Teresa Lozano
Long for supporting the arts and improving
educational opportunities. Through scholarship and
philanthropy, she has helped America’s children
and young adults learn the skills they
need to succeed. (The National Humanities
Medal is presented.) (applause) Patrick J. O’Connell for being one of
the greatest chefs of our time. Through The Inn at Little
Washington, he has raised the culinary arts to new
heights of excellence by embracing regional flavors
and celebrating local farmers. (The National Humanities
Medal is presented.) (applause) James Patterson
for being one of the most successful American
authors of our time. His prodigious imagination
has resulted in fascinating works that
have been enjoyed by millions. His championship of
literacy in America has inspired many to realize
their potential. (The National Humanities
Medal is presented.) (applause) The President:
Thank you all very much. (applause)