Celebrating Passion and Accomplishment

With the opening of the “Discovery and Recovery” exhibit, I had a chance last week to thank many of the National Archives staff who made it possible.  And it truly took a village to make this happen!  Staff from just about every corner of the Agency contributed—preservation and conservation, security, legal, communications, exhibits, digital engagement, innovation, digital preservation, holdings protection, programs, and facilities.  Truly a team effort.

discovery and recovery

Photo of the “Discovery and Recovery” exhibit in the Lawrence O’Brien Gallery. Photograph from the National Archives’ Instagram account: instagram.com/usnatarchives

In my remarks to the assembled staff I tried to convey my pride in their work, but also my pride in the passion and commitment they bring to the job every day.  And I was reminded of the closing lines of Donna Tartt’s new novel, The Goldfinch, about the rescue of a painting:

“…if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time—so too has love.  Insofar as it is immortal (and it is) I have a small, bright, immutable part in that immortality.  It exists; and it keeps on existing.  And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire, and sought them when they were lost, and tried to preserve them and save them while passing them along literally from hand to hand, singing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.”

These talented staff members have had “…a small, bright immutable part…” in making it possible for future generations to study and learn from the past—the true gift of the work we do.

One thought on “Celebrating Passion and Accomplishment

  1. Knowing that extraordinary lengths are often taken by NARA and its partners to make materials/records available, I was astounded and very proud to see that our conservation and preservation expertise is, as always, leading the way in bringing the world closer together and expanding the wealth of global records for now and the future; that personal care for precious records combines with state-of-the-art methods; that influence and credibiility bring freezer capabilities to the desert and across the ocean. Doris Hamburg and Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler and their staffs and partners are doing work worthy of international applause and recognition. When I shared the video with my family , friends and neighbors, they applauded and said, “No way! NARA did that?” I’m proud to know these professionals, and am adding to the applause and recognition which, no doubt, has already begun around the world.

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