Like all good republicans I recently made the pilgrimage to the shrine of The Great Ronald Reagan . . . Actually I just begged the bf to consider a visit when I found out his parents lived an hour away but the opening line just has more flair about it. But here's my recap of our visit to The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:
We arrived around 9:45 on Labor Day, the library opens at 10am. The library is set at the top of a hill in Simi Valley, CA and it is a beautiful setting. On the lamp posts up the hill are flags for each American President leading up to Reagan , and on the way down are the ones after him - agh, this cute attention to detail alone told me I would love this place. The front of the library looks like a beautiful ranch home in a very typical Cali style with a center courtyard
Inside the lobby are the names of big donors engraved on the granite walls - lets just say this place has BIG money invested in it. The tour begins down a long hallway that serves as a waiting area while you wait for the next intro film to start, you can also take the time to pose with the Ronald and Nancy statues, which we did
We watched the intro film and I was pumped, Go America! For the record, I actually enjoyed the film at the Clinton library too - I think it's really hard to not feel patriotic at presidential libraries. The exhibit then begins with Reagan's early life - I always wondered how he went from actor to politician , now I know (to sum it up he was a key player in a Screen Actors Guild strike negotiation, became SAG president, became a spokesman touring the country and from there went into politics). One thing I really enjoyed learning about was the relationship between Ronald and Nancy, it's very sweet and even brought me to tears at one point.
The exhibit then moves on to Reagan's time as Governor of California and then the Presidential Campaign. One this that was really fun about the library was all the photo opps provided, like this:
The library also covers the assassination attempt and has video footage from three different vantage points. I thought it was a little startling for young ones but the staff member were not encouraging families to continue past the video.
After the mood is lightened with life in the White House.
There's a film with clips of entertainers that performed at the White House, displays of Presidential gifts, and an interactive area on White House entertaining.
We also got to design our own presidential china, here's mine:
Next was a room all about First Lady Nancy Reagan
So in the begining of the presidency Nancy was criticized a lot for her White House renovations and fancy clothes - she did a hilarious Second Hand Rose act in thrift store clothing making fun of herself and that was the end of that - too funny!
At this point we had reached the half way point of the exhibit and decided to break for lunch. There are two cafes on site with reasonable prices, we spent $50ish on four people which I was impressed with for a captive audience. Plus, here was our awesome lunch view:
Seriously, the entire plane. See:
Photos were not allowed in Airforce One, which was not nearly as fancy as Harrison Ford's in the action movie Air Force One but still pretty freaking cool, they did have lots of fun information . . .
There was also a cool video on bringing the plane to the library, the hanger was built around it. And the hanger itself is very nice:
After this awesomeness the exhibit continued with interactive information on the domestic issues during the Reagan Presidency; I found this especially neat as I was born in 1984 so I was interesting to see what was going on during that time.
The exhibit then turns towards foreign policy, especially the Berlin walk and shows a film about communism. The exhibit was very dark but the library has a piece of the wall outside
The exhibit covers Reagan's efforts to meet with many foreign heads of state and gives special attention to his relationship to Gorbachev
Other foreign policy and events were covered included the Iran Contra scandal, at this point our group was getting a little tired but luckily Im a fast reader, I learned more in this room that years of US history in school.
Next was a room on Reagan and his focus on the American people and had information on various individuals and groups he honored during his term. They also had a piece of the twin towers from 9-11, I didn't really get why.
The mood lightened with a room on Camp David and the Reagan's ranch. Reagan was gifted lots of saddles and belt buckles during his presidency and some of those were on display.
It was also time for another dorky photo opp
Shaun didn't get the angel quite right but oh well, it was still fun.
The exhibit ended with Reagan post presidency, showed some of the honors that has bestowed upon him by other countries and had a brief discussion of his time with Alzheimer's. There was a hallway that showed several clips from his funeral and discussed the world's reaction to his passing and this led to a theater that showed a small film on Reagan's legacy to conclude the tour. After we viewed the grounds and paid our respects as the library is also Reagan's final resting place. We left at little after 4pm so this was an all day activity for our group.
Personally I think Reagan is one of the best President's this country has had but Bill Clinton loving Shaun disagrees - we both enjoyed our day at the library and we both thought it was very well done. Eventually we want to see all the presidential libraries as they are a nice part of American history. Without visiting others besides Bill's I feel fairly confident in saying Reagan's is the largest. I'm really glad we got to go and hope y'all enjoyed reading about our visit.
God Bless America!