In the foyer of Fred DuVal’s home, there’s a framed photo and piece of paper with names scrawled on it. From a passing glance, it could be a family heirloom – a well-preserved photo of spiffy, suit-clad ancestors in front of a big building, with their handwritten notes beneath. A closer look, though, reveals a scene of international magnitude: The photo was taken outside the White House on September 13, 1993, at the signing ceremony of the Oslo I Accord. President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and a host of highly-placed officials are gathered around the table where representatives signed the peace accord. The paper underneath the photo bears their signatures. DuVal was there that day and, in fact, led the procession of political powerhouses out onto the lawn.
“We were supposed to practice walking out and there wasn’t any time. So George Stephanopoulos got up and said, ‘Look, just line up in the order that you’ve been given and we’re not going to practice this. Just everybody follow Fred, Fred knows the drill,’” recalls DuVal, then Deputy Chief of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State. “Now, I hadn’t been prepared to do that. So I have this great piece of [news] tape – it’s 25 minutes late, the doors of the South Lawn open up and Tom Brokaw says, ‘Well, finally the event is beginning. It appears that there’s been a delay, but the event is about to begin. Here come our VIPs, and the first person out the door… We have no idea! No idea who’s leading the procession, but following him is Mrs. Tipper Gore and the vice president…’”
DuVal trails off into a burst of belly laughs. “So it’s a very grounding reminder.”
More than 20 years later, DuVal has once again wandered into a critical political moment, and once again few people seem to know his name. But they should. With campaign season approaching, the former Arizona Board of Regents chairman and aid