Wednesday, April 12, 2006

First Ladies and Charities

One of the efforts that US First Ladies have always been involved in is charitable good works. One of the boons, if you will, of being First Lady is to pick your favorite charity or cause and help to get Americans more involved in it – to give it national publicity. Lawrence Rifkind has compiled a list of First Ladies and their chosen charities or causes that is very interesting to peruse. Most of us may know what modern First Ladies have chosen, but you will be surprised by some of the choices of early First Ladies. While some of the issues have obviously been chosen because they fit with the presidential platform, I think it also shows the women who have held this position in what they have worked for. You can also see changes in American history and what is affecting the country by their choices (for example, one of Barbara Bush’s causes was AIDS as the first Bush administration was during the rise of AIDS in the US).

First Lady Laura Bush has worked to improve literacy. As someone in the library profession, I find her work commendable as many Americans have forgotten (especially come tax time when libraries need money) the importance of a library to a community. One of the events that Mrs. Bush hosts is the National Book Festival in DC. This event drew 100,000 people this last year. Mrs. Bush said in 2001, “I love to read, and I want more Americans to experience the sense of adventure and satisfaction that comes from reading a good book.” From her webpage you explore the other issues that Mrs. Bush has helped to strengthen in the US. What would you want to choose if you were First Lady?

Now something that I found when looking through Mrs. Bush’s webpage that I couldn’t resist sharing was from her remarks at the opening of the 2003 National Book Festival. This has nothing to do with charities (besides that fact she read it opening a charity benefit that is), but it was just too cute to pass. She read a poem that President Bush wrote to her that definitely shows a different side of the President:
Dear Laura,
Roses are red, violets are blue, oh my lump in the bed, how I've missed you.
Roses are redder, bluer am I, seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.
The dogs and the cat they miss you too, Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe. The distance my dear has been such a barrier, next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.

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