Tuesday, February 19th 2019

Feb 19, 2019

A Presidential Celebration of the First Ladies

Jessica Darke, Producer

I'd like to take this President's Day week to celebrate the First Ladies. All the First Ladies. May we stand for them as we've stood to inaugurate their husbands, father's, and uncles. May these ladies, bearers of the countries' welcome mat, hear our applause as we thank them for their silent power and for the calm they embody, yet no one understands.

The position of First Lady has no salary, no rules, and initially no operating budget (not until 1978) and yet still the role carries with it social and political circumstance and responsibility. While the Presidential position is well documented in the constitution, there is no mention of the First Lady. Instead, it has been generations of First Ladies who have molded and shaped the role through their own interpretation of it; from hosting galas and diplomatic dinners (Martha Washington and all subsequent First Ladies), to writing press columns about policy and civil rights (Eleanor Roosevelt), to championing causes for children, underserved populations, and women alike (Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, Rosalyn Carter, and Melania Trump), the role is continuing to shift as the needs of the country shift beneath it.

The First Lady is a focal point of the vulturous media, especially those outlets which support her political opponent. Nothing is off limits to be criticized, from her wardrobe to her mannerisms to her public programs, and the relationship with her number one, the POTUS. After reading Michelle Obama's memoir, Becoming, I developed a whole new appreciation for the unseen limitations and yet extreme expectation that is put on the first family.

To these women who have worn the smiles seen so frequently in the newspapers, may you have your moment of silence, to shout aloud, to curse when you stub your toe. We see you for the complexity and the compassion with which you earn our applause and so much more.

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