Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The cultural establishment rallied Thursday around Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley, whose budgetary practices are under investigation by the House Appropriations Committee.
"This couldn't come at a better time," said Mayor Walter Washington quietly to a friend before stepping forward, at a party in the National Academy of Sciences, to declare Thursday "S. Dillon Ripley Day" in the District of Columbia.
The party was organized by Katie Loucheim, Harry McPherson and Nancy Hanks, all top cultural advisers in past administrations. Guests included Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.), Rep. Lindy Boggs (D-La.), former Sens. John Sherman Cooper and William Fulbright, Catherine Filene Shouse of Wolf Trap Farm Park, Roger Stevens of the Kennedy Center, Lisa Taylor of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, Theodore Reed of the National Zoo, Michael Collins of the Air and Space Museum and Marvin Sadik of the National Portrait Gallery.
"You're all dears to be here," Ripley told them after saying, "I refuse to be disillusioned, I refuse to be disenchanted, at the hurly-burly of the daily press."
Declaring a day in honor of an individual is something the mayor rarely does, said an aide, although it was done recently for musician Todd Duncan.
Louchheim said she had thought of giving this party for Ripley's last birthday, which was Sept. 20, "out of poisitive feelings - he wasn't under attack then. This was just born of our admiration. We didn't sit around and wring our hands and say, 'Oh God, he's under attack' - that would have been obvious, and embarrassing, and sticky."
When Mayor Washington presented his proclaimation, he said, "There comes a time in the lives of all of us when we need to do this - we need to smell some flowers - we need to know we are not alone."
Ripley's life, he said, "exemplifies hope and promise and the fulfillment of the American dream."