The Richard Nixon Foundation is honored to announce the dedication of the General James “Don” Hughes flagpole in commemoration of the General’s centennial birthday. As part of the birthday festivities, General Hughes received an American flag that was flown over the Nixon Library and a copy of the plaque affixed on the newly dedicated flagpole.
The flagpole was selected to honor General Hughes as a lasting tribute of his work to ensure the American flag flies over the White House 24/7. As President Nixon recalled in his memoirs, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon:
I can take credit for only one innovation in our White House redecorating program. One night as we were arriving home from some social function, I noticed that the flags were flying over many of the federal buildings but not over the White House. My military assistant, Don Hughes, informed me that the flag could be flown at night only if it were lighted. I asked him to have a floodlight installed on the roof and, from that time on, the flag flew over the White House day and night.
Karen Marchant, daughter of General Hughes, wrote on behalf of the Hughes family, “The Nixon Foundation could not have come up with a more fitting tribute for Dad on the occasion of his centennial birthday. The flagstaff, quite literally, upholds the most precious symbol of our nation and the freedom it represents. For someone who has dedicated his life in support of our country, there could not be a more meaningful gift in a more appropriate place.”
In 1957, Hughes was selected as Military Aide to Vice President Richard Nixon. He was with the Vice President during the Caracas crisis in 1958 and on scene at the American Exhibition in Moscow when he faced off with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in what became famously known as the “Kitchen Debate.”
From 1969 to 1972, General Hughes served as Military Assistant to President Nixon, overseeing 2,000 people directly, and in charge of Air Force One, special missions, helicopters, ceremonies, protocol, the White House Communications Agency and Camp David.
In 2011, Hughes delivered the keynote address at the commemoration of Richard Nixon’s 98th birthday and he maintains a friendship with the Nixon family. “General Hughes had first-hand experience watching Richard Nixon develop as a skillful leader and diplomat. The Nixon Foundation is honored to have a lasting tribute as a reminder of the dedication and service General Hughes has given his country. On behalf of the Foundation we wish General Hughes a happy birthday and are pleased to join in celebrating this milestone occasion,” said Jim Byron, President and CEO of the Richard Nixon Foundation.