Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reminisced Friday about their experiences at the Little Rock airport that now bears their names.
“More than 40 years ago, the first time I came to Arkansas, I flew into this airport,” Hillary Clinton told hundreds gathered at a dedication ceremony.
And long before the Clintons logged so many miles in the sky, the former president said he first flew out of the same airport when he was in college.
Much has changed since then. Clinton went on to become governor and later president, while his wife took on the roles of first lady, senator and secretary of state. Meanwhile, the airport grew to serve about 2.2 million passengers annually. Workers there recently completed a $67 million renovation project to improve the lobby and baggage screening area.
“The Clintons have given so much to our city, our state, our nation and our world, it’s only fitting that this airport be named in their honor,” the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission’s chair, Kay Kelley Arnold, said. “It’s the only airport named after a president and a first lady and a secretary of state. … And we’re just getting started.”
The commission voted unanimously last year to rename the airport in honor of Arkansas’ most famous political couple.
In addition to the airport, other buildings named for Bill Clinton in Arkansas include his presidential library, the University of Arkansas’ school of public service and two public schools. His name also appears on a Little Rock street.
“I always think when a person gets out of the White House, they shouldn’t get any award or have anything named for them because the job itself is the greatest honor in the world,” the former president said Friday. “But I confess to be profoundly grateful for this …”
His wife agreed.
“This is a very profoundly deep honor for me: to be here for the naming of this airport that has played such a role in my own life,” she said.
Over the years, Bill Clinton said, the airport has given them a means to return to his native state.
“Thanks to this airport, we were always able to find our way back home,” he said.
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