Dave Matthews at Monticello

Musician Dave Matthews, sitting beside the president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Leslie Greene Bowman, was the speaker at the annual Monticello Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony today. The rocker called us a "nation of immigrants" and welcomed the new citizens with a reminder about the meaning of the motto on the great seal of the United States, the Latin phrase E pluribus unum, meaning "out of many, one." Matthews says he "came into town late," straight from his summer tour schedule, and felt a "little addled," but delivered a speech enjoyed by all.


When/why did the 4th of July Monticello speakers change? The speakers used to be current and former presidents, secretary's of state, etc. It seems like the last few years it has been very different. Taking nothing away from Dave Matthews, it's just not the caliber of speaker Monticello used to have.

Because Charlottesville/Monticello doesn't have the cachet/pull that it used to have? That could be one reason...

It looks to me like Monticello has tilted towards inviting naturalized citizens who have a much more inspirational and personal story to tell than a politician. Presidents would always be welcome, and it's my understanding have a standing invitation, but someone who's walked the path of the honorees is much more appropriate. Dave started his speech by saying he doesn't speak in public much (and I'd say he's probably never out of bed for a 9:00 AM gathering!) and then went into a funny, compelling, and wonderfully inspirational personal story of his journey. I'd take that over a mealy-mouthed politician any day.

Wow, Bob you don't really do your research and/or pay attention to the speakers they have had in the past. True, many have been Presidents but there have been a variety of actors, actresses, historians, CEOs of companies, etc. http://www.monticello.org/site/visit/50-years-naturalization-ceremonies-...

I wonder how they catorgorize Mr Matthews... is he the first "African American" to speak there?

@C'ville Native.............why the attitude? Is there a requirement to do a research project before posting a simple observation? Besides, having spent the first 19 years of my life about 3 miles from Monticello and attending naturalization ceremonies there with my family, and attending Mr. Jefferson's University, I can use my own obserations. Having said that, the site you reference makes my case for me. Although it is not all inclusive, it shows Sam Waterston in 2007, but before that all major poltiical leaders, signficant authors (David McCullough, Carl Sagan), and a CEO or two. The trend of more pop culture people appears to have started relatively recently. It's my theory that it reflects the overall dumbing down of our society and a focus on the popular rather than the substantive.

@Bob, I suspect it has a lot to do with the change in Sr. Management. Mr. Jordan preferred to invite top political dignitaries while newer management has a less strict view. As you probably have noticed there seem to be a lot more social activity on the Mountaintop in the last few years (since Mr. Jordan has retired) than there were in the late 90's (as an example). I suspect this trend will continue.

@Just Saying............thanks for the additional perspective. I moved away from the area about 6 years ago and have probably missed the additional "social activity" you referenced. Besides the naturalization ceremonies, what are some examples of the additional social activity? Hopefully we're not renting it out for birthday parties.....yet!

They had a wine tasting up there and have tried other functions there too, but specifics escape me right now...

@Bob - As I glance at the list it appears to me that these are not just random celebrities. They are immigrants or children of immigrants (Waterson) who made great success and have a decent political knowledge of our country. Waterson's father was an immigrant while his mother's side goes back to the Mayflower. It may also be that Monticello is attempting to attract the interest of a younger generation as well. Just a thought. I wish I could have attended and hope they post a recording somewhere of Dave Matthews' speech.