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Tag: gerald ford

State Dinners at the White House

Today’s post comes from the National Archives Office of Presidential Libraries.

King David Kalakaua of Hawaii was the first head of state to be honored with a White House state dinner on December 12, 1874, by President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant. In the years that have followed, state dinners have come to signify the utmost respect for visiting heads of state. Each state dinner is a historic event with the power to cement friendships with allies and foster cooperation.

Months of meticulous planning go into a state dinner. The guest of honor’s country, culture, and favored preferences are thoroughly researched. The First Lady often chooses the décor and entertainment to highlight a certain aspect of American culture. Together, these considerations are translated into invitations, menus, guest lists, and entertainment. The results can be a form of diplomatic dialogue between the host and guest cultures.

In 1976, First Lady Betty Ford chose “light” as the theme for the state dinner honoring French President Giscard d’Estaing. The theme was inspired by France’s Bicentennial gift to the United States, a sound and light show staged at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. Centerpieces were designed for each table using early American lighting items loaned from the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. These included a period lanterns, candelabra, and candlesticks made of tin, pewter, brass, and wrought iron.… [ Read all ]

Transcripts on the evacuation of Saigon

Gerald Ford called April of 1975 the “cruelest month.”

Having inherited a Presidency and the closing act of an unpopular war, Gerald Ford convened his National Security Council in April 1975 to discuss the final evacuation of Saigon. The North Vietnamese were on the outskirts of the city. While there were once over 500,000 troops in Vietnam, now there were only a handful of civilian personnel, and the time had come to leave.

The decisions that brought America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict to a close were tough, calibrated decisions, and few documents highlight this more than the minutes of that fateful National Security Council meeting on April 28, 1975. Forty-eight hours later, the last American would leave Vietnam.

Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (1/9)

Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (2/9)Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (3/9)Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (4/9)Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (5/9)Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (6/9)Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (7/9)Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (8/9)Minutes from the NSC meeting to evacuate Saigon (9/9)

These documents are part of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library. You can also view them here. The message mentioned in the minutes, and later sent by Secretary of State Kissinger to Ambassador Graham Martin, follows.… [ Read all ]