Monday, December 7, 2009

President Obama Praises the Arts at Honoree Reception

President Barack Obama reminded the nation of the importance of arts this weekend, as he made some reassuring remarks during a Reception for Kennedy Center Honorees. We have included some of the highlights below.

December 6, East Room, 5:28 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: And today, it is our great joy to continue a White House holiday tradition —- a celebration of performers who have transformed the arts in America, our extraordinary Kennedy Center Honorees. (Applause.)

These performers are indeed the best. They are also living reminders of a simple truth -- and I'm going to steal a line from Michelle here -- the arts are not somehow apart from our national life, the arts are at the heart of our national life. (Applause.)

In times of war and sacrifice, the arts -- and these artists —- remind us to sing and to laugh and to live. In times of plenty, they challenge our conscience and implore us to remember the least among us. In moments of division or doubt, they compel us to see the common values that we share; the ideals to which we aspire, even if we sometimes fall short. In days of hardship, they renew our hope that brighter days are still ahead.

So let's never forget that art strengthens America. And that's why we're making sure that America strengthens its arts. It's why we're reenergizing the National Endowment of the Arts. That's why we're helping to sustain jobs in arts communities across the country. It's why we're supporting arts education in our schools, and why Michelle and I have hosted students here at the White House to experience the best of American poetry and music.

And it's why we're honored to celebrate these five remarkable performers, who for decades have helped to sustain and strengthen the American spirit.

Dave Brubeck. Mel Brooks. Grace Bumbry. Robert De Niro. Bruce Springsteen. Their stories are their own. But the part that they play in the larger American story -- that's what we honor here tonight. What they say is that with respect for the past, we can keep strong the traditions and values that enrich us all; that with confidence in the present, and in ourselves, we can overcome whatever comes our way; and that with faith in the future, America's greatest "Glory Days" are still to come.

So thank you to all of our honorees. Thank you all very much for the joy and the beauty that you've contributed to our lives. We are very grateful. Thank you. (Applause.)
End 5:59 P.M. EST

You can read the entire script of this reception at You may be required to create a free account to access the speech.

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