In April 1969, RN celebrated the 70th birthday of Duke Ellington and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House
IN April 1969, three months after his inauguration, President Richard Nixon hosted a party at the White House to celebrate Duke Ellington’s 70th birthday and award the Duke the Medal of Honor. Great American jazz figures were there. Musicians played Ellington songs arranged by Gerry Mulligan. Joe Williams and Mary Mayo sang. Ellington danced with Rose Mary Woods. After dinner, the president had a nightcap with the pianist Earl Hines.
It was in many other ways a very good year for President Nixon. He called to congratulate the Apollo 11 astronauts on their moon landing. He initiated a huge expansion of the National Endowment for the Arts and began the processes that led to the desegregation of public schools in the South and a historic reform of the government’s policy toward American Indians. He announced the “Nixon doctrine,” providing aid — but not military forces — to our anticommunist Asian allies. He signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.