DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With more than a half hour until the ceremony, more than 1,000 people had filed into a tent on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus. Those, and more than a thousand more, would gather to attend the groundbreaking of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
“It is hard to believe there is this much excitement about shoveling dirt,” the former president said smiling.
Some 2,500 people were expected to attend the invitation only event. Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, were joined onstage by former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
During the ceremony Rice said, “The hallmark of the Presidency of George W. Bush was the fundamental bedrock belief of the inherent worth of every individual. And because every individual is worthy, every individual deserves to live in freedom.”
During the ceremony, congratulations messages, sent by cell phone text, were displayed on giant television sets on either side of the podium.
Former Vice President Cheney told the the crowd, while looking at George W. Bush, “When the worst came you did your job with courage, clarity, and with strength of heart.”
Speaking of his tenure in the White House Mr. Bush said, “I believe that the ultimate responsibility of a leader is to not do what is easy or popular and to do what is necessary and right.”
The Bushes seem to enjoy themselves as they exchanges smiles and word with each other and former Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. Evans is now the chair of the George W. Bush Foundation.
There was an especially light moment when the 10th Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, joked about Mrs. Bush’s background as a librarian.
This will be the 13th Presidential library. The first one was built in 1939 for Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was the 32nd President of the United States. This will also be the third Presidential library in Texas. Lyndon B. Johnson’s library is located on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, selected Texas A&M University in College Station to host his library.
There was a standing ovation when former President Bush and Mrs. Bush were introduced. Evans began the introduction for the former president with acknowledgment of other Bush Foundation members.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center, which will include a library and a policy institute, is expected to open by 2013. The 225,000-square-foot center will be a modern brick and limestone building set amid a Texas-inspired landscape.