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Jan 30, 2019 Washington, D.C. —
The latest episode of The 1600 Sessions podcast, “White House Military Social Aides,” was released today by The White House Historical Association (WHHA). Association President Stewart McLaurin speaks with former White House Social Secretary Ann Stock, and three former Military Social Aides: former U.S. Senator and Governor Charles “Chuck” S. Robb, current Chairman and former CEO of C-SPAN, Brian Lamb, and Kenn Riordan, Jr., who leads The Society of White House Military Social Aides. The four guests reflect on their time in the White House.
Military Social Aides are men and women from the Armed Forces who assist the Social Secretary, President, and First Lady to ensure the smooth operation of White House events. Part of their role is to welcome guests, engage them in conversation, and help put them at ease. The role they play is essential -- they execute all official events at the White House seamlessly.
“Part of my duties as a White House Social Aide, and most occasions, I was the person that was assigned to introduce all of the guests. I would introduce, Mr. President, I would give the title and the name. And then he would introduce them to the visiting king, president, or prime minister, whoever it was as they came through,” recalled former Senator and Governor Charles S. Robb.
Military Social Aides serve as the right-hand person of the President and First Lady at important events, such as state dinners, and the positions are incredibly selective.
“I’ve often thought, for people like myself, interested in politics, and all that stuff, that it was one of the greatest shows on earth to be able to stand kind of anonymously next to the President of the United States,” said Brian Lamb, current Chairman and former CEO of C-SPAN, who served as a Military Social Aide alongside Governor Charles S. Robb.
Coming from one of the five services of our Armed Forces, the way that Military Social Aides execute events at the Executive Mansion appears as if it is done effortlessly. In fact, they keep very busy in their role, and remain calm under pressure.
“I worked for President and Mrs. Clinton who believed the White House was the People's house and wanted to include as many as humanly possible in their events, and during my five years as social secretary, to give you some sense of the scope of what the aides do, we hosted over half a million people and the aides were really, really busy,” said former White House Social Secretary and WHHA Board Member Ann Stock.
In the White House, it is common to host heads of state and a wide variety of celebrities. Military Social Aides have to remain poised, and make all guests feel comfortable.
“It’s really quite an amazing experience because you have a movie star for instance that's nervous because they want to do well, they might even be sitting at the same table with the president. So they're quite dependent on you and you want to be friendly and see if they have any questions and talk to them. And I think just the fact that you're at ease and you're talking to them and you're answering all their questions and you say you know you're just going to do great,” said Kenn Riordan, Jr.
The 1600 Sessions
In this podcast series, White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin interviews luminaries, historians, and eyewitnesses to history about America’s most famous residence and office—the White House. Each episode includes a prominent guest or guests to discuss varying facets of White House history, including insights from former staff and many other topical issues.
The 1600 Sessions is available on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. To hear the full episode, visit The1600Sessions.org.
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About the white house historical association
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.
To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit WhiteHouseHistory.org.