Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
With hope —
-Maya Angelou from her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” read at the inauguration for President Clinton.
Maya Angelou has passed away at the age of 86. Our thoughts are with her family and all of those that she inspired.
Photo: Maya Angelou delivers her poem at the inaugural ceremonies for President Bill Clinton. U.S. Capitol, January 20, 1993.
My Tuesdays are meatless,
My Wednesdays are wheatless,
I’m getting more eatless each day.
My home — it is heatless,
My bed — it is sheetless,
They’re sent to the Y.M.C.A.
The bar rooms are treatless,
The coffee is sweetless,
To-day I grow poorer and wiser.
My stockings are feetless,
My trousers are seatless,
My God! How I do have the kaiser.
This humorous poem about the United States Food Administration is found in the papers of Ben Allen who served as Chief of the Education Division and who worked many times over the years with his friend Herbert Hoover.
-from the Hoover Library
The First Inaugural Poet: Robert Frost
Today, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Richard Blanco as the inaugural poet for Barack Obama’s upcoming ceremony. Blanco will become the fifth inaugural poet in the history of U.S. Presidents.
John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration was the first to feature a poet at the swearing-in ceremony, and he named Robert Frost for the honor.
Frost wrote an original poem for the occasion called “Dedication.” He presented a handwritten version of the poem to President Kennedy. Jacqueline Kennedy framed the poem and wrote on the backside in pencil,
"For Jack. First thing I had framed to be put in your office. First thing to be hung there.”
Frost had planned to read a typed copy of the poem during President Kennedy’s Inauguration, but due to sun glare reflecting off the snow, he was unable to read his own draft. Instead, he recited “The Gift Outright” from memory.
Image: Framed poem, “Dedication,” handwritten by Robert Frost for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
On December 2, 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency opened for work for the first time. Earlier that year, President Richard Nixon and Congress had established the EPA with overwhelming support from the public.
It may be hard to imagine that before 1970, a factory could spew black clouds of toxic into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream, and that was perfectly legal. They could not be taken to court to stop it.
The pictures shown here are from the EPA’s 1970s photography project, DOCUMERICA. These shots were selected from the “In Praise of Forests” collection: Forest snail on an alder leaf, Alder Catkins on the ice, Mushroom lit briefly by the sun, Seedlings.
Happy anniversary to the EPA!
Inspired by these photos? The National Archives in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency is inviting students aged 13 and up to snap a picture, write a poem, or create a video that is inspired by one of our many Documerica photos and enter it into the Document Your Environment contest on Challenge.gov.
Look who’s judging: Graphic artist and former Documerica photographer, Michael Philip Manheim, will judge the Graphic Art category; Cokie Roberts, author and news analyst for National Public Radio and ABC News will judge the Video category; and Sandra Alcosser, the first Poet Laureate of Montana and professor of poetry at San Diego State University will judge the poetry category. A finalist will be chosen for each category in each of the three age groups, and one grand prize winner will be chosen by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. The grand prize winner will also be awarded $500, courtesy of the Foundation for the National Archives.