The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

 

I cried. Several times. And I feel so inspired after visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

To get here, I drove on the Ronald Reagan Freeway, and followed a dozen signs to “Presidential Library.” This is my third time here. The first time I was on my honeymoon in 1996, and there was a special treat: We got to see President Reagan while hew as visiting the grounds himself. Although stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease, he saw us all wave to him, and he waved back. It was simply wonderful.

The library sits on 100 acres on the top of a hill, overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the distance. There are two stated purposes: to be a Library and a museum. There is a third purpose: itis a place for people to gather; be it for a Presidential Debate, or for groups to meet to further conservatism. There was a nominal cost to tour the museum, and for only $7 more, you can get an audio wand which corresponds to different spots on the tour. (It is worth every penny to hear snippets from President Reagan, as well as Nancy and even one by JFK.)

At the start, there are portraits and statutes of President Reagan that people take pictures of themselves with. There were lots of great Reagan quotes. “America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments ate yet yo be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.”

There were three parts to the museum: First Reagan’s family, growing up, going to college, leading a college protest as a Freshman (!), his radio career, his movie career, his TV career, and the epochal “Time for Choosing” speech in 1964. Then on to his governorship, his daily radio five minute messages, the 1976 race against Ford, his race against Carter where he carried 44 states, and the first 70 days of his Presidency, followed by him being shot. There was a replica of the Oval Office with the famous brass quote: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

Second is the Air Force One Exhibit. That 707 is one huge airplane, and its exhibit was built on the only appropriate site left on the top of the hill where it could be connected to the rest of the buildings. It is lots of fun. There is also the Marine One helicopter, and various armored cars and the story of how the plane was flown into the San Bernardino airport was disassembled, and then driven on the freeways to the library where it was reassembled on-site, with the new building being half constructed.

And then third, back to the chronology, now by themes of the Reagan Presidency. I was reminded of how bad things were when Reagan was elected, from high inflation and high unemployment to poor military preparedness. I remember how crushed the nation was from Jimmy Carter’s stagflation. I teared up over the Morning in America TV ad. Then Reagan honoring the boys of Pointe du Hoc. Tears again. Then pride at Reagan walking out of Reykjavik Summit. (I remember watching a Dallas Cowboys Football game during this and the worry on the announcer’s face after Reagan walked out.) Then American Heroes. Then the Reagan Ranch. And finally mourning President Reagan with eulogies by Margaret Thatcher and H.W. More tears.

I was emotionally flooded. Fully motivated, I hit the Museum Store. I bought a bunch of books and a “Future President of the United States” toddler t-shirt for my 11-month-old great-niece. I bought so much stuff I got a free tote bag for the library! (I also got two President Reagan rulers for the office, and a square magnet with the same picture of a smiling Reagan in a cowboy hat that I use to symbolize me at Ricochet.) There was a nice cafe where I wrote most of this until I was kicked out when they had to secure the building at the end of the day. The only down point is that the cafe had only paper straws. But hey, this is California, what do you expect?

Outside a gentle breeze highlighted a portion of the Berlin Wall. And I paid my respects to President Reagan’s final resting place where he is now joined by his Nancy. Ronald Wilson Reagan. February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004. Nancy Davis Reagan. July 6, 1921 – March 6, 2016. “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always triumph and there is a purpose and worth to each and every life.”

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is less than an hour away from downtown LA if the freeways are clear. Don’t miss it. And bring tissues.

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There are 19 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Gary Robbins: Ronald Wilson Reagan. February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004. Nancy Davis Reagan. July 6, 1921 – March 6, 2016.

    A lot of 6ths in those dates.

    • #1
    • September 21, 2019, at 5:32 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. PHCheese Member

    Thanks for the trip back in time.

    • #2
    • September 21, 2019, at 6:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Petty Boozswha Member

    When character mattered.

    • #3
    • September 21, 2019, at 6:20 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    I was there to get a signed copy of Rumsfeld’s book. He liked that I knew his stand-up desk was like that of Admiral Spruance. The library had to build him one as they had set up an ornate sitdown desk. 

    • #4
    • September 21, 2019, at 6:43 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins: Ronald Wilson Reagan. February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004. Nancy Davis Reagan. July 6, 1921 – March 6, 2016.

    A lot of 6ths in those dates.

    I recall seeing a small tract from some Baptist organization in the fall of 1980, warning against voting for a divorced Hollywood type named Ronald Wilson Reagan, 6 letters in each name. It obviously wasn’t very convincing argument.

    • #5
    • September 21, 2019, at 6:54 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Songwriter Member

    My wife and I loved our visit to the Reagan library two years ago. 

    • #6
    • September 21, 2019, at 7:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Cow Girl Thatcher

    I’ve been there a couple of times, and it really is a wonderful place to visit. I’ve got to get my grandson down there just for the Air Force One adventure!! He’s an aviation fan.

    • #7
    • September 21, 2019, at 7:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. The Reticulator Member

    A couple of weeks ago we visited the Reagan boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois (as well as one of the high schools he attended, a few blocks away). I took several rest days on my bicycle tours this year, which gave me a chance to visit museums and historic sites along with Mrs R. Most of these places were very good; this one was excellent. (The Lincoln museum in Springfield was somewhat of a letdown, although it had its good points.) 

    I’ve never read any Reagan biographies, so I learned quite a bit at the boyhood home. I took a photo of this rocking chair, because it illustrates the small town nature of the place. On learning that the house contained no original furniture, one of the neighbors contributed this chair that had once been in the home. The town and neighborhood are full of living connections to the place and to former President Reagan. 

    The tour guide was excellent. (He knew a lot about Black Hawk history, too, which is the subject of a lot of my bicycle rides.) 

    • #8
    • September 21, 2019, at 8:05 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. Bethany Mandel Editor

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BYtX8CvgLLe/

     

    We went last summer and had a lovely time as well. I think of it whenever I look at my Reagan keychain, which is every day. 

    • #9
    • September 22, 2019, at 5:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins Post author

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BYtX8CvgLLe/

    We went last summer and had a lovely time as well. I think of it whenever I look at my Reagan keychain, which is every day.

    I already had a Reagan plastic ruler at the office. Now I have two more!

    Clients of mine are not ready for a Reagan loving lawyer!

    • #10
    • September 22, 2019, at 5:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Richard Easton Member

    Here’s a friend, Bill Mellberg, with the Reagans.

    • #11
    • September 22, 2019, at 8:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins Post author

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Here’s a friend, Bill Mellberg, with the Reagans.

    Well, I am waaaaaaaaay impressed. 

    Gary

    • #12
    • September 22, 2019, at 11:27 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Front Seat Cat Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    A couple of weeks ago we visited the Reagan boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois (as well as one of the high schools he attended, a few blocks away). I took several rest days on my bicycle tours this year, which gave me a chance to visit museums and historic sites along with Mrs R. Most of these places were very good; this one was excellent. (The Lincoln museum in Springfield was somewhat of a letdown, although it had its good points.)

    I’ve never read any Reagan biographies, so I learned quite a bit at the boyhood home. I took a photo of this rocking chair, because it illustrates the small town nature of the place. On learning that the house contained no original furniture, one of the neighbors contributed this chair that had once been in the home. The town and neighborhood are full of living connections to the place and to former President Reagan.

    The tour guide was excellent. (He knew a lot about Black Hawk history, too, which is the subject of a lot of my bicycle rides.)

    I have the book God and Ronald Reagan – A Spiritual Life by Paul Kengor. Reagan’s dad was a bad alcoholic and he felt like he needed to take care of the family. His mother instilled his strong sense of values. They were poor and struggled. It’s interesting to see one man’s life, starting in hardship, to influence so much good in the world. 

    • #13
    • September 23, 2019, at 6:07 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. The Reticulator Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    I have the book God and Ronald Reagan – A Spiritual Life by Paul Kengor. Reagan’s dad was a bad alcoholic and he felt like he needed to take care of the family. His mother instilled his strong sense of values. They were poor and struggled. It’s interesting to see one man’s life, starting in hardship, to influence so much good in the world. 

    During the tour there was a lot about the influence of Reagan’s mother. 

    • #14
    • September 23, 2019, at 6:19 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Stad Thatcher

    Now you have to visit the Reagan Ranch . . .

    • #15
    • September 23, 2019, at 6:21 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins Post author

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    I have the book God and Ronald Reagan – A Spiritual Life by Paul Kengor. Reagan’s dad was a bad alcoholic and he felt like he needed to take care of the family. His mother instilled his strong sense of values. They were poor and struggled. It’s interesting to see one man’s life, starting in hardship, to influence so much good in the world.

    During the tour there was a lot about the influence of Reagan’s mother.

    That is so true. Nell Reagan. There are several exhibits and pictures of her side of the family.

    Reagan’s Father was also praised. When he came to a motel, they proudly said that they didn’t allow “Jews” to stay there. Reagan’s father said he wouldn’t stay there either and slept in his car. This is not unlike how Reagan himself brought two black teammates home after they were denied lodging based upon their race.

    • #16
    • September 23, 2019, at 8:03 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Now you have to visit the Reagan Ranch . . .

    You know it! Thanks Stad.

    To quote the Gipper, “I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the insides of a man than the outsides of a horse.”

    • #17
    • September 23, 2019, at 8:04 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. Allie Hahn Coolidge

    I’d love to visit the Reagan library…. My sister has been to the ranch multiple times and it’s meant a lot to her. I’ll have to ask if she’s been the library, too. Maybe I’ll make it out to California one day! 

    • #18
    • September 23, 2019, at 9:48 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. Richard Easton Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    Here’s a friend, Bill Mellberg, with the Reagans.

    Well, I am waaaaaaaaay impressed.

    Gary

    Bill told a funny story about being in the White House mess in the mid 80s. Someone gave him a phone and he pretended to be Reagan calling for a sandwich. He had the person convinced that it was Reagan calling and asked him to turn around (he then realized it was Bill). Here I am with Bill and Milt Rosenberg after we appeared on Milt’s show in June 2015.

    • #19
    • September 23, 2019, at 10:15 AM PDT
    • 2 likes