Friday, August 4, 2017

Inspirational: The Reagan Presidential Library

Portrait of Ronald Reagan
As a kid attending grade school in the mid 1980's it was hard to miss who the president of the United States was. I remember his photo hanging on the wall in classrooms throughout the school over the years. We talked about him and even though we were kids we looked up to him as a role model. His name was Ronald Reagan and he helped change the world. 

  I thought that maybe I looked up to him because I was just a kid that didn't know any better. I knew nothing of politics at that age and I certainly didn't understand world affairs but I remember being inspired by him anytime he was on television and I knew that people paid a lot of attention to him. Thirty years later I still have the fond memories but I also have a better understanding of the world and I actually admire Reagan more today than I did as a child. Naturally when I realized that the Reagan Presidential Library was just a short drive from where I'm staying I knew we had to go.
  Cars filled the parking lot the morning we arrived and it was obvious that the library was popular with those on summer vacation. Parents, children and retired couples filled the halls of the library to learn about Reagan's presidency and I imagine to reminisce to a certain extent. Reagan's Hollywood smile greeted us as we entered the library and like any story they start at the beginning. We got to see photos from his high school football days, heard stories of his family's immigration and of course we learned of his career in acting. They devoted a very small portion of the library to this period of his life however. I guess that makes sense considering this is a presidential library. 
  One room touches on the assassination attempt that nearly cost Reagan his life. Here we got to see the suit he wore on that day complete with bullet holes and incisions made by doctors as they cut the suit off of his body. Even his x-ray showing the lodged bullet are on display. Kinda leaves you feeling shocked but it is an important sidebar of his presidency. 
  We got to stand behind a teleprompter similar to the one he used on inauguration day. It gives you kind of an empowered feeling really. But can you imagine having to stand behind that podium when it really counted? That's pressure, baby.
Section of the Berlin Wall at the Reagan Presidential Library
  Of course if you're going to talk Reagan you have to talk about Russia and more specifically the Berlin Wall. As a video played explaining the Cold War I sat with my twelve year old daughter and tried to explain to her what the Berlin Wall was and why it was there and admittedly I learned more sitting there with her watching the video then I remembered from living through it. She was a bit confused and when the concept kind of sunk in she said, "So it's the Hunger Games?" And I said,"....Yup. It's kinda like the Hunger Games." Baby steps folks, baby steps.
Air Force One 27000
At the mid point of the museum sits a room large enough to hold Air Force One. No, really, Reagan's Air Force One is inside the museum as well as Marine One and a small deli. It's a really big room. Seven President's used this particular plane from Carter to George W. Bush but Reagan put the miles on her. 660,000 miles actually. He traveled to 46 U.S. states and 26 foreign countries aboard this Boeing 707. Here we got to walk through the plane and got to experience what it would have been like to be aboard the aircraft as they were in service. FYI, air force one is just as cramped as any passenger jet. This one just has some offices built inside of it. I don't know what I expected but it wasn't as luxurious as I imagined which actually made if feel more like a tool to me rather than some fancy way to travel for the President. I like that.

Reagan's Oval Office
 A tour through a full scale replica of his Oval Office and some of his personal saddles from his California ranch are some of the more personal displays at the library and just outside the library stands a small section of the Berlin Wall. The wall didn't come down until after Reagan had left office but he laid the ground work for its demise. He stood in front of this wall on June 12, 1987 and said the now famous words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." We looked at the wall before we entered the library that morning but it didn't mean as much to the kids until after they got through the library. Yes the Hunger Games talk actually struck a chord and when Faith saw the wall as we were leaving she seemed to understand that the strange, ugly section of wall actually meant something important and that realization alone filled me with pride and made the whole trip worthwhile. 
The Reagan's Final Stop
As we left we got to pay our respects to the former President and First Lady as they lay together looking over their beloved Simi Valley. In a world so filled with uncertainty and hatred we can only wish to have another Reagan to help see us through the hard times. Like anyone else he had flaws but in the end he did the job with great patriotism and integrity and because of that he will always be one of the greatest and most important American's to ever lead this country. 


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