John Howard Sanden portraits  

The White House Unveiling
May 31, 2012

Remarks by President George W. Bush

hank you, sit down. Sit down. Behave yourselves. (Laughter.) Mr. President, thank you for your warm hospitality. Madam First Lady, thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends—(laughter)—to my hanging. (Laughter.)

Laura and I are honored to be here. Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming. We are overwhelmed by your hospitality. And thank you for feeding the Bush family, all fourteen members of us who are here. (Laughter.) I want to thank our girls for coming. I thank Mom and Dad, brother, sister, in-laws, aunts and uncles. I appreciate you taking your time. I know you're as excited as Laura and me to be able to come back here, and particularly thank the people who helped make this house a home for us for eight years, the White House staff.

I want to thank Fred Ryan and the White House Historical Association and Bill Allman, the White House curator. I am pleased that my portrait brings an interesting symmetry to the White House collection. It now starts and ends with a George W. (Laughter and applause.)

When the British burned the White House, as Fred mentioned, in 1814, Dolley Madison famously saved this portrait of the first George W. (Laughter.) Now, Michelle, if anything happens—there's your man. (Laughter and applause.) I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, "What would George do?" (Laughter.)

I am honored to be hanging near a man who gave me the greatest gift possible, unconditional love—and that would be number 41. (Applause.)

I want to thank John Howard Sanden for agreeing to use his considerable talents to paint my likeness. You've done a fine job with a challenging subject. (Laughter.)

In the portrait, there's a painting by W.H.D. Koerner called, "A Charge to Keep." It hung in the Oval Office for eight years of my presidency. I asked John to include it, because it reminds me of the wonderful people with whom I was privileged to serve. Whether they served in the Cabinet or on the presidential staff, these men and women—many of whom are here—worked hard and served with honor. We had a charge to keep and we kept the charge.

It is my privilege to introduce the greatest First Lady ever—sorry, Mom. (Laughter.) Would you agree to a tie? (Laughter.) A woman who brought such grace and dignity and love in this house. (Applause.)

Remarks by Mrs. Laura Bush