October 12, 2000
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON SIGNS LEGISLATION GRANTING PERMANENT STATUS FOR UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Bill Clinton yesterday signed legislation that establishes permanent status for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was created to be the national living memorial to the Holocaust and its victims.
The Museum “serves as a constant and painful reminder that racism, anti-semitism and all forms of hatred are ever-present dangers, and that indifference to hatred makes each of us complicit in some way,” President Clinton said. “Each generation must be taught these critical lessons anew, and therefore the Museum’s special emphasis on reaching America’s young people is vitally important for our country’s future.”
The granting of permanent status is significant as an expression of the importance the U.S. government places on the Museum. Permanent status permits Congress to provide funding without having to review the Federal role. Every U.S. government entity requires Congressional authority before funds can be allocated; but not every Federal institution is given permanent status.
“The presence of permanent authorization for appropriations signifies that America’s national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust is now an integral part of our capital city. It represents our nation’s permanent commitment to never forget past failures of responsibility and to enlist conscience to uphold life and law permanently. Therefore, the memorial stands so appropriately among our greatest monuments to democracy,” says the Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, Rabbi Irving Greenberg. “To this nation’s rapidly declining population of Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as those American soldiers who liberated the camps, permanent authorization conveys that the memorial here today will be here forever. They deserve no less.”
“Permanent authorization enhances the Museum’s ability to function as one of our government’s most successful public-private partnerships,” says the Museum’s Director Sara Bloomfield. “Our other significant partners — the thousands of individuals, foundations and corporations who support our work — now share a permanent commitment with the U.S. government. Representatives Chris Cannon (UT) and Ralph Regula (OH) and Senators Frank Murkowski (AK) and Jeff Bingaman (NM) deserve enormous credit for their leadership in sponsoring and guiding this legislation through Congress. This momentous initiative is another reflection of the strong bipartisan support the Museum enjoys.”
The Museum opened more than seven years ago on land provided by the Federal government, which also contributes towards basic operating costs, with private donations paying for most programs and educational outreach. The current budget for the Museum is $55.4 million, with $34.4 million contributed by the federal government and $21.0 million from private contributions.
The Museum is America’s national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this country’s memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust. It has welcomed almost 15 million visitors and annually hosts about 2.4 million user sessions on its web site. Its primary mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about the unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the issues raised by the events of the Holocaust including their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.