January 17, 2001
As I continue to sort through my belongings, packing the seemingly endless supply of boxes, I can see workers putting the finishing touches on the reviewing stand from which the Bushes and their guests will watch the Inaugural parade on Saturday.
What an incredible experience -- one that my family and I will never forget. After my husband's swearing-in ceremonies in January 1993, we walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. After watching the parade from the reviewing stands, we proceeded to the North Portico. When we stepped into the Grand Foyer, we were greeted by the many people who work so hard to make the White House not just the center of the executive branch of our government, but also a warm and inviting place for the First Family to live.
My priority, upon moving in, was to create a home for my family -- especially my daughter, who was only 12 at the time, and had just left so many good friends behind in Little Rock. With the help of the curator's staff, we planned a special Inauguration-night party for Chelsea. While Bill and I attended 13 Inaugural balls, Chelsea and a group of friends shared pizza and soda. The highlight of their evening was "The History Mystery Tour," a scavenger hunt that had them roaming all over the house, searching for items of historical significance like the Gettysburg Address, and on the lookout for some of the little-known spots like the hidden staircase between the second and third floors.
This is just one example of the lengths to which the White House staff has gone over the last eight years to make us feel at home. Under Chief Usher Gary Walters, who describes his job as "the manager of a big hotel with only one tenant," the 91 employees have become an extension of our family. When we leave on Saturday morning, saying goodbye to them will be the hardest part of the day.
As difficult as the leave-taking will be, the memories of the last eight years will be with me forever: the first visit of Nelson Mandela; the moment Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat extended their hands to one another in a gesture of peace and goodwill; honoring American heroes like Rosa Parks; welcoming entertainers like Elton John and Barbra Streisand; the November day in 1998 when we gathered in the East Room to celebrate the adoption of 30 children who had never before known what it meant to have permanent and loving families; the day Chelsea left for college; peaceful weekends at Camp David; several surprise birthday parties; eight magical Christmases; marking the moment Dec. 31, 1999 turned to Jan. 1, 2000; watching fireworks from the Truman Balcony and movies in the family theater; late night swims; the first meeting of Buddy and Socks; and even a few incognito walks outside the grounds.
For every one of these incredible memories, I have members of the White House staff to thank -- not just the residence staff, but the Social Office, the kitchen staff, the florists, the military aides and musicians, the flight crews and employees of the White House Mess, communications experts, the White House operators, the Secret Service, domestic and international advisers, the correspondence offices, career employees who take care of a mind-boggling array of administrative details, historians and preservation experts, thousands of volunteers without whom this living museum could not function, and of course, the dedicated members of my own staff.
Even as we wind down to the last few days, this hearty group is going full tilt. On my schedule today, I will attend a meeting with the Holocaust Asset Commission; present awards to five groups for their efforts to extend microcredit to would-be entrepreneurs; and meet with the staff of our Vital Voices initiative, which works to bring women around the world into the mainstream of their nation's governments and economies.
Asked why, at this stage, we are still so engaged, I have to say that it's because of you. You asked us to do a job, and not one of us wants to leave while any part of that job remains undone.
So I thank you, too -- not just for the last eight years, but for the opportunity to continue the work we began together. Although I must say goodbye to the dear friends I've made here, I won't be far away. And I promise that every day I'm a United States senator, I'll continue the work begun in this house.
I wish the Bushes all the best. I know they will be well taken care of here. And once again, to my loyal readers around the world, I say, "Thank you."
To find out more about Hillary Rodham Clinton and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Talking It Over: 2000
December 13, 2000: Column on Trip to Ireland and Vital Voices Announcement
December 6, 2000: Column on Passing Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Bill
November 29, 2000: Column on "An Invitation to the White House: At Home With History"
November 22, 2000: Column on Trip to Vietnam
November 15, 2000: Column on the 200th Anniversary of the White House
November 8, 2000: Column on New York Senate Race
November 1, 2000: Column on the Importance of Voting
October 25, 2000: Column Urging Congress to Pass Legislation Important to the American People
October 18, 2000: Column on Trafficking of Women and Children
October 11, 2000: Column on Microenterprise for Self-Reliance Act
October 4, 2000: Column on Reauthorization of AmeriCorps National Service Program
September 27, 2000: Column on Reauthorization of VAWA
September 20, 2000: Column on Ritalin
September 13, 2000: Column on Youth Violence and the Entertainment Industry
September 6, 2000: Column on Expanding Healthcare Benefits
August 30, 2000: Column on Making Education Our #1 Priority
August 23, 2000: Column on Pine Ridge, New Markets Tour
August 16, 2000: Column on Decision 2000
August 9, 2000: Column on the Congressional and Presidential Tax Plans
August 2, 2000: Column on Newborn Hearing Screening
July 26, 2000: Column on the 10th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act
July 19, 2000 : Column on Treasures Visit to Ellis Island
July 12, 2000: Column on Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors
July 5, 2000: Column on the Ninth Millennium Evening,
June 27, 2000: Column on Quality Education for Hispanic Youth
June 21, 2000: Column on Save America's Treasures: Val Kil Cottage, New York
June 14, 2000: Column on the Violence Against Women Act
May 31, 2000: Column on National Trails Day
May 24, 2000: Column on National Moment of Remembrance
May 17, 2000: Column on Howard Theater
May 10, 2000: Column on Million Mom March
May 3, 2000: Column on the White House Conference on Teenagers
April 26, 2000: Column on Arbor Day
April 19, 2000: Column on Earth Day
April 12, 2000: Column on International Family Planning
April 5, 2000: Column on Women Entrepreneurs and Microcredit
March 29, 2000: Column on Teen Smoking
March 22, 2000: Column on Pediatric Drugs
March 15, 2000: Column on Child Support
March 8, 2000: Column on Children and Guns
March 1, 2000: Column on Teacher Training, Recruitment and Retention
February 23, 2000: Column on D.C. Campaign to prevent Teen Pregnancy Launch
February 16, 2000: Column on Vital Voices Event at the White House
February 9, 2000: Column on Prescription Drug Coverage
February 2, 2000: Column on Child Care
January 26, 2000: Column on College Opportunity
January 19, 2000: Column on Human Trafficking
January 12, 2000: Column on Housing Vouchers and Affordable Housing
January 5, 2000: Column on the New Millennium
December 20, 2000: Column on Presidential Interagency Council on Women
January 10, 2001: Column on Memories and Achievements - Part II
January 3, 2001: Column on Memories and Achievements - Part I
December 27, 2000: Column on The People's House, The White House
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
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