Beautiful Day

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reagan Presidential Library

So I mentioned that during our California Getaway , that we took an afternoon excursion to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.  I think we both knew that it would be inspiring (and we could use some of that!), but I don't think we knew just how much so it would be!  Warning---LOTS of pictures in this post! :)

We entered here and were on our way.

I would just like to say, that I appreciated the professionalism of this place.  I have never been to any presidential libraries in the country (and I don't think there are many I would even want to visit), so I would imagine they do this in every one.  But from the professional attire of the docents, to the helpful enthusiasm expressed at different points in the museum, I just thought it so respectful and appropriate.

We started with a short film overview of President Reagan's terms in office.  It was only about 3 minutes long, and already the tears were welling up in my eyes.

There is a lot to see and take in here.  And many rooms that depict different aspects of Ronald Reagan's life as well as his presidency.  What strikes us here is how much of a work ethic he developed as a young man.  He did not live a silver-spoon life in his growing-up years.  Yes, he became a "movie star."  But that was one of his goals in life that he determined to work toward, and achieved.  He had a great capacity for communicating, which as you may know, earned him the title The Great Communicator.
I came away with a much deeper understanding of how this was both his gift, and a discipline that he cultivated.  It reminds me that I have a stewardship to develop the gifts that God has uniquely given me.

At this podium/photo prop, each one can take their turn "giving" a Presidential speech!  In the company of other VIP's :) 

One of the highlights for me, personally, was to dwell on this little island that shows Reagan's collection of quotes in his own handwriting.  I do so love the written word, and this display, among others, captures something precious to me----the (quickly-becoming) lost art of handwriting by pen-and-ink.  I often wonder what will become of some aspects of history when all we have is typewritten emails and text messages, and even tele-prompted speeches.  This display alone made me want to write, write, and write some more!

The base of the above display has some of his quotes emblazoned on all four sides.  They were all great, and characteristic of what he believed.

Speaking of letters.....His legacy in letters is astounding.  But the most touching are his love letters to his wife, Nancy.  Oh, they are BEAUTIFUL!

President Reagan certainly had a great wit and sense of humor.  It was even displayed in the moments he entered the hospital after he was shot.  I think this sense of humor is something he and his wife both shared, and it had to have made the heavy responsibilities just a little lighter each day.

There were a few of these cute little telegrams he sent her.  

I am surprised that I did not take more photos in the Nancy Reagan portion of the gallery.  This was a place that really captured my heart (and hence more tears followed).  Mostly because what I saw here was a woman who exuded grace, charm and beauty in that she served her husband well.  She seemed to grow into her public role very well, though I am sure it was very challenging.  I miss the public examples of women who bring finesse and beauty to the things they put their hands to in their capacity as a helpmeet to their husband.  She was event-coordinator-extraordinnaire.  She did raise life above mere existence, not only for her husband, but for others.  And her husband certainly "praised her in the gates," as Proverbs 31 says.  His appreciation for her shines in so many of his public, and private, words. 

On a side note about letters, I noticed a letter written to Nancy from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher upon the death of President Reagan.  I loved how personal it felt between these two women, sharing in a grief.  And Margaret Thatcher was so encouraging of Nancy as a woman walking through grief.  She praised her for how she had witnessed her strength in bearing the sorrow, especially in a public funeral.  It brought such a sense of real.  And a sense of friendship.

Replica of the Oval Office during Reagan's administration--to the exact dimensions!

Of course, there are MANY displays of gifts from leaders around the world, given during the Reagan's travels.  I took this picture primarily for my children.  We had just finished an old "Mickey Mouse Club" movie on "The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of the Applegate Treasure."  It was all about Spanish doubloons and pieces of eight and there was a catchy song at the beginning of every episode.  So I HAD to show them real Pieces of Eight!

One of the primary attractions here is Air Force One.  This one served 7 presidents, if I remember correctly.  It is quite amazing to have one on display in a Presidential Museum!  Cool plane to travel in, for sure!  And Warrior says this one is smaller than its successors.  No pictures allowed inside of it.  But for a price, you too can have your picture taken at the entrance to the plane with your lovely Presidential and First Lady wave!

And Marine One--the presidential helicopter.  Not as posh as Air Force One, but certainly comfy seating for a helicopter!

At this point we were only about halfway through the museum!  So we paused for some lunch at a little sandwich shoppe made in the replica of an Irish pub that the President visited (he has Irish roots).  It was a most excellent sandwich! :)

This doesn't do justice to the view.  It is quite a lovely view from atop the hill where the museum is.  Since our family are Roy Rogers fans, I couldn't help but think of Roy Rogers movie sets everywhere I looked.  (The names of towns were certainly reminders as well!)

My girls would find this the fun part of the museum, since it is primarily about his ranch life....and horses!  Here is a saddle collection (and some belt buckles).

Quote which my girls very much believe.  We have a cup that attributes a similar quote to Winston Churchill.  So maybe this is one he borrowed?

Just a ride with the President.

My moment to capture the gorgeous Southern California flowers!

A piece of the Berlin Wall.  WOW!  So appropriate that they would display one here.

With all these photos, you might think I spoiled it and showed you the whole museum.  But I promise I didn't!  There is a lot to see here, and different aspects will stand out to different people.  There are galleries full of exploring his role in the fall of Communism in Russia, his boyhood, the assassination attempt on his life, the Iran-Contra affair, and more, all the way up to his death and funeral.  In all, a very honoring tribute to an honorable President.  His life represents one of character, integrity, and humility (when is the last time you heard a President publicly apologize for something that happened under his watch, even if he was not directly involved?). 

They've done a fine job of paying tribute to President Ronald Reagan.

If you visit here, I do recommend giving yourself a minimum of 4 hours.  At least if you are a history afficionado.  I suppose you might breeze through it faster if you don't care to read much.  But you might be surprised!  At many museums I have a hard time reading through what's written, even though I really love American history in particular.  But this one had my attention from start to finish.  Except for maybe small portions on the economy.

Of course, almost every museum tour, lands you in the gift shop at the end.  I wanted to be careful here, but I chose two primary books that captured my attention.

I'm looking forward to spending time with these in the coming weeks.

If you are ever in Southern California and have yet to venture to this museum, I highly recommend it!  I think I left with, on one hand, a sadness for where our country has gone since his era of leadership, and on the other hand, a renewed and profound respect for great leaders and for history, a deep gratitude for true, loyal love stories such as theirs, and the desire to try my best to preserve a legacy in letters to my loved ones--to keep at that discipline of writing!

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