January 19, 1988

The President. Well, Brooke and ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, and welcome to the White House. We've gathered here today to bestow an honor upon a woman we all know and admire: Brooke Astor. I'll read a citation in just a moment, but that citation is awfully official sounding, and I'd like to add a personal note. You see, Brooke is a friend of ours. Nancy has known Brooke since Nancy was 14. I've known Brooke for a good many years.

There's no way a document can capture her wit, her warmth, no way express her energy and her extraordinary vitality. And, Brooke, there's just no way that Nancy and I can ever thank you enough for all the wonderful moments that you've given us.

And now you're here with me at the podium, and your country wishes to honor you. And therefore, I shall read a citation for the Citizen's Medal:

``Her philanthropies have extended from Carnegie Hall to the Bronx Zoo. She has made the New York Public Library her special project, overseeing the renaissance of that venerable and magnificent institution. She has written two volumes of autobiography and a number of splendid, witty novels. And to all who knew her, she's a joy. And if Brooke Astor feels that she has become a public monument, it is a credit to the public for making her one.''

Ms. Astor. That's it?

The President. And now, yes, the presentation of the Citizen's Medal.

Ms. Astor. Oh, thank you, Mr. President. I'm overcome.

The President. Well, congratulations, and God bless you.

Ms. Astor. Mr. President, when can I wear this?

Mrs. Reagan. Anytime.

Ms. Astor. Do I wear it at a big party and pin it on?

The President. Yes, you can. It's yours.

Ms. Astor. That isn't showing off?

The President. No, it's yours. You've earned and deserve it. [Laughter]

Ms. Astor. Thank you so much.

The President. And there's a little button that shows, if you choose, that you are the possessor of that.

Ms. Astor. There's the button, yes.

Mrs. Reagan. Wear it anytime.

The President. All right.

Ms. Astor. Thank you so much for this.

The President. And now we shall all adjourn to the Red Room, which is right next door. Gorbachev was very happy with it. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 4:30 p.m. in the Blue Room at the White House.