Bushes, Carter, Bono Headline Clinton Library Ceremony

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11.13.04 - Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK - President George W. Bush and former presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter will speak, and rock legends Bono and The Edge will perform, to honor Bill Clinton at the dedication of his presidential library Thursday.

More than 30,000 invited guests - including dignitaries, celebrities and contributors to the $165 million private library construction effort - will be packed into temporary bleachers on the newly landscaped Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.

Another 20,000 people are expected to flood the neighboring city streets that morning to watch the grand opening festivities on JumboTron screens.

A White House spokesman confirmed Friday the current president's plans to participate in the ceremony. He, his father and Carter are scheduled to speak. Former President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty were invited but could not attend.

It won't be the first time George W. Bush has commemorated Clinton's presidency. The Republican president praised Clinton this summer at a White House ceremony to unveil the Democrat's official portrait. Clinton did the same for the elder Bush's portrait ceremony and library opening in College Station, Texas.

After the presidential speeches, the politically outspoken Bono and guitarist The Edge will perform. They are two of the four members of the Irish band U2, which has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide and won 14 Grammys. Like Clinton in his post-presidential foundation work, Bono is a champion for fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa and has been since he helped start Band Aid in the early 1980s.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela will give a video greeting near the beginning of the program. Other foreign leaders, former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper, first lady Laura Bush and former first ladies Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter will be introduced to the crowd.

Former first lady Lady Bird Johnson has been ill and cannot attend. British Prime Minister Tony Blair also was not able to come, library officials said.

The U2 members will be followed to the grassy plateau that will serve as a stage by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who will introduce her husband for what are scheduled as brief remarks.

The former president and Arkansas governor will be followed by daughter Chelsea, who will speak and present ceremonial keys to the 150,000-square-foot library to National Archivist John Carlin. The library project has been financed by Clinton's private foundation since 1999, but becomes the 12th presidential library run by the National Archives and Records Administration on Thursday.

Mickey Mangun, a Pentecostal gospel singer from Pineville, La., who performed at both Clinton inaugurations will perform before a fleet of F-16s from the Air National Guard's 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith, wrap up the program with a flyover.

Before the official ceremony, legendary trumpeter Phil Driscoll will play "America," several Arkansas musicians will perform and Rita Dove, who Clinton appointed as the first black U.S. poet laureate in 1993, will read her poem "This Life."

Bagpipers from Lyon College in Batesville will start the program by marching in along President Clinton Avenue to Celebration Circle, the cul-de-sac in front of the massive steel-and-glass library. The marching band from Clinton's alma mater, Hot Springs High School, and African Drum Ballet, a group from Clinton's birthplace of Hope will also take the stage.

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on November 13, 2004 4:02 AM.

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