Today, we had a Holiday Tea for the Washington Diplomatic Community at Blair House, the President's guest house. Randy Bumgardner, the manager of the Blair House and Assistant Chief of Protocol and Ann Dorr, Assistant Blair House Manager, along with the Blair House's fine staff, decorated the house beautifully with flowers, candles, ribbons and assorted holiday decorations. The Christmas tree was beautiful. Chef Ian Knox had made tea and holiday treats for the gathering.
Over ninety Ambassadors attended, most with their families (children, grandchildren, and spouses). We had an great opportunity to greet and get to know the families. I was fortunate enough to have my son, Eric, with me. We took our picture in the library in front of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, who has always had special significance to Illinoinans such as myself and my son -- President Lincoln is the first historical figure so many children in our state learn about. I thought about how fortunate Eric and I were to be here today, welcoming guests in this beautiful setting with its special history and memorabilia from past visits of Presidents and foreign leaders. For a time, Blair House even served as home to President Truman and his family.
Last month, Randy invited me to a ceremony in front of the Blair House honoring the Secret Service agent, Leslie Coffelt, who was killed on November 1, 1950, as he tried to protect President Truman from an assassination attempt. The ceremony took place at sunrise, with all of the officers in uniform. It was quite beautiful.
Eric and I sat with the Ambassadors and their families in the Garden Room, having tea and listening to lovely piano music being played by Steve Cooper. I am thankful to be able to share the joy of this season with fascinating people from different parts of the world. No matter the religion or background of the guests, all were filled with enthusiasm and cheer and clearly enjoyed each other's company.