- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2004

It would be difficult to imagine a more intimate and romantic dinner than the one former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and his wife, Janet Langhart, hosted at Evermay on Valentine’s Day.

“There gets to be a point in life when it’s time to make every moment count. We just wanted to celebrate with very close friends,” Mr. Cohen explained as he and Ms. Langhart greeted 90 special pals in the exquisitely candlelit and rose-filled Georgetown mansion Saturday night.

Those who didn’t realize that the occasion also marked their hosts’ eighth wedding anniversary found out when the couple rose to exchange touching tributes before dinner.

“It was love at first sight,” the glamorous Ms. Langhart told the hushed crowd in the Orangerie. “I can’t count the ways I love him — there are so many, and it would take too long.” Then, to her husband: “You are my life, my love, my Valentine.”

“A tough act to follow,” Mr. Cohen admitted, though he did so admirably in describing his initial encounter with Ms. Langhart as “a snapshot moment, an arterial burst of love.” After all, how could he fail to lose his heart to a great beauty who played polo “with absolute courage and abandonment … who prepared dinner by candlelight, a gardenia in her hair”?

“You are the woman I cherish,” he said, looking into his wife’s eyes from across the room, “I will love you forever.”

A magic moment, and then the floodgates were open; speeches and toasts followed from VIPs asked to deliver their own special Valentines.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan read a (not bad) sonnet to wife Andrea Mitchell, but only after admitting it had been composed by a speechwriter friend.

“I’m introverted. I speak only in Fedspeak,” the nation’s rational but nonetheless exuberant chief economist said.

Former Sen.John Glenn spoke movingly of his wife, Annie, noting their 61st anniversary in April. Motion Pictures Association of America chief Jack Valentirecited from memory a poem (by Cavalier poet Robert Herrick) for his wife Mary Margaret, who was unable to attend.

Lynda Carter andRobert Altman held hands, touched heads and sang together as a string sextet strolled through the room playing “It Had to Be You,” “Moon River” and other romantic favorites to the bipartisan crowd that included National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice(and her date, former San Francisco 49er Gene Washington),LloydandAnn Hand, Chris andLucy Buckley, Al Hunt andJudy Woodruff, Jim HoaglandandJane Stanton Hitchcock, ArnaudandAlexandra de Borchgrave, DanandTanya Snyder and Abeand Irene Pollin, among other notables.

Nina Auchincloss Straightwas reminded of the legendary, unbuttoned-down gatherings of the Kennedy era, more than 40 years ago.

“It was a great party and a good mix,” Mrs. Straight said. “How wonderful that so many important people felt comfortable enough to get up and express their feelings.”

— Kevin Chaffee

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