Statement by Senator Mark Pryor
On Designating President Clinton’s Birthplace Home a National Historic Site
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you and the Committee for allowing me to testify on behalf of S.2417, legislation to designate the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace home in Hope, Arkansas, as a National Historic Site and unit of the National Park System. Congressman Mike Ross has shepherded identical legislation through the House of Representatives, which passed on March 8th by an overwhelming majority.
The little wood frame house on 117 S. Hervey Street begins the first chapter to a story I wish every little boy and girl could hear about hope and opportunity in America. It is the home where Billy Blythe spent his first years where he tells us he learned to walk and talk, pray, read, and count from playing cards. It is by all means a modest home that defines a humble childhood. It is the birthplace home of our 42nd President. Like the homes of presidents who came before him, I believe this landmark deserves Federal recognition and should be preserved as part of the National Park System.
Clinton’s birthplace underwent an extensive renovation funded by the non-profit Clinton Birthplace Foundation. During the home’s dedication in 1999, then-President Clinton recalled that we make seemingly-ordinary places into landmarks because they “remind us that America’s greatness can be found not only in its large centers of wealth and culture and power but also in its small towns, where children learn from their families and neighbors the rhythms and rituals of daily life. They learn about home and work, about love and loss, about success and failure, about endurance, and the power of dignity of their dreams.”
The resources of the National Park Service can only enhance this landmark, providing further economic opportunities for southwest Arkansas and educating thousands of families who travel to Hope, AR about the life and times of President William Jefferson Clinton.
This designation is supported by the entire Arkansas congressional delegation, Governor Mike Huckabee and the Clinton Birthplace Foundation. I ask this committee for its approval of S.2417, and I thank you again for your consideration.