Presidential Remarks at White House Reception Recognizing Kennedy Honors Recipients
December 7, 1997
An annual event that originated in 1977, the Kennedy Center Honors are bestowed upon deserving individuals in the performing arts for their lifetime contributions to American culture.The reception, at which the President hangs a specially designed ribbon award around the neck of each recipient, comprises a part of a week long series of events that culminates with a performance for the Honorees at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. Highlights of the evening’s activities are broadcast on CBS television in a 2-hour special airing sometime between Christmas and New Year’s.
The Honorees for 1997 included actress Lauren Bacall, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, actor Charlton Heston, opera singer Jessye Norman, and dancer Edward Villella.
Bob Dylan has been referred to as the “conscience of a generation.” In his speech President Clinton congratulates him for “stirring the conscience of our nation.” Mention is also made of his penchant for uncompromising lyrics sung in a gritty voice designed to shake up the establishment. His songs and music range the gamut from folk stylings to hard core rock-and-roll and plaintive country yearning.
One of the Clinton Library's archivists, a big fan of Bob Dylan, chose this featured document. He wanted to add a personal note that back around 2004 President Clinton gave a speech at a magnet school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Afterwards, members of the staff of the Clinton Library crowded around him in order to shake his hands and converse. "Wearing a Bob Dylan t-shirt, I approached for a handshake and maybe a word. President Clinton looked at me and stared at my apparel for a second. Then Clinton declared, “Very interesting man,” referencing, of course, the former Mr. Zimmerman."Click to view the full PDF
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