Last week, I had the opportunity to represent the National Association of REALTORS® at the re-opening of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. After a two-year closure, including an $85 Million renovation project, the Museum re-opened in grand fashion.
Now, you might ask what NAR has to do with the Smithsonian. A few years ago, we partnered with the museum to sponsor the Ipswich House exhibit. This exhibit showcases the role that homeownership has played throughout American history, by telling the stories of the generations that lived in the house. Millions of people walk through the exhibit each year. It is one of the best ways we promote homeownership and the great work that REALTORS® do to help Americans achieve it.
As you might expect, I have been to Washington, D.C., many times in my life, but my visit last week had to be the most meaningful.
At the private dedication, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush presided over a ceremony where five individuals became citizens of the United States. The five new citizens were so proud of their new citizenship. In fact, one, a member of the U.S. military, stood at attention during the ceremony. For just a few moments, we forgot political ties, professional affiliations, and social status, and we simply thought about how lucky we are to live in the United States. We were not Republicans or Democrats, REALTORS®, or public officials. We were simply “Americans.” I am incredibly proud and thankful.
After the ceremony, I went to the White House for lunch with Mrs. Bush. When I was introduced to her, she immediately thanked REALTORS® for the work we do in our communities to fight homelessness and to expand homeownership opportunities through our partnership with Habitat for Humanity and other programs. With no prompting from me – or anyone else – she named several of the areas where we are making a difference. Yes, our First Lady “knew” EXACTLY what we do to benefit our communities and our clients.
Honestly, I have never been more proud to be an American and a REALTOR®. As we pause this week to give thanks for all that we have, I plan to share with my family and friends my gratitude for the freedoms I have as an American citizen, and how truly honored I am to serve the REALTOR organization. I hope each and every one of you feels the same.
Happy Thanksgiving! — Jim Helsel, 2009 NAR Treasurer