Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

If you are a Republican, then visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is equivalent to a trip to Mecca. If you are a Democrat, you might have to hold your nose, put on blinders, stay away from the ultra-rude museum docents (looking as if they've been especially shipped in from the red states) and take a trip down history lane.

We whizzed by a full-scale replica of the Oval Office with numerous Reagan artifacts from his terms as President and then completely skipped all the other exhibits to head straight for Air Force One. This original aircraft flew for seven U.S. Presidents over 20 years: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. In 2001, the Reagan Library received the aircraft in a decommissioning ceremony at the San Bernardino International Airport. It was disassembled by a nine-person crew from the Boeing Company into fuselage, tail and stabilizers, engines, main landing gear and wings. In 2003, it was then transported on a specially designed truck. A building was partially constructed for the aircraft, and after it was towed inside in 2004, the remaining walls were built around the aircraft as it was reassembled. It took 5 months to polish the plane. After many years, its still sparkles today. If you are willing to wait in a long line, you can walk through "The Flying White House" and get a souvenir photo taken. The pavilion also holds a helicopter and motorcade with Presidential limo, police motor cycle and secret service vehicle.

The rest of the museum isn't for ages six and under. Guest are introduced to Reagan through his college days, some highlights of his movie career (he starred in over 100 movies) and then through his Presidency and death. His tomb is outside, perched atop a hill with nearly 360 degree dramatically, gorgeous views. The library is also is home to the Reagan archives. It holds over 60 million pages of documents, over 1.6 million photographs, a half million feet of motion picture film, tens of thousands of audio and video tape, and over 40,000 artifacts. In what seems like a marketing scam to draw in even more visitors annually, Disney has opened a hall attempting to feature the friendship between Reagan and Walt.