The journey you are about to embark in, will not only lead you through the story of a presidency, but of a movement dedicated to the greatness of America, with faith in its traditions and intrinsic kindness that every citizen has in his or hers heart, the stability of its institutions and, at a more deeper level, the faith in essence of America as a nation.
Stepping into the library, you’ll see that every element of it helps to keep alive the legacy of the 40th president of America.
The design of the library is California mission style architecture, located on an area of about 1000 acres, with an overview of the Pacific Ocean, in Simi Valley.
Among the first things you learn is that Reagan did not want the library to focus on one man or one party, or even a single country. The focus has been on the fundamental principles of life that does not erode over time, and which were offered to mankind.
From the White House we have many documents, speeches, photographs, audio and video, gifts received by the president and his wife, all being preserved and maintained here.
What makes the story of Ronald Reagan to be an extraordinary one, it’s how a regular guy got to do extraordinary things, in a nation where any boy or girl is given a chance to become president.
Reagan went through this journey and brought a change that left a legacy, forever.
In 1964, Reagen gave a speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater, that changed his life and the lives of the american people:
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this the last best hope of man on earth, or will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
This speech helped him to become governor of California and ultimately, the president of the United States.
In the library, you will see a man who was dedicated to concrete actions, a leader with strong principles and beliefs, that manages to succeed in what he does, through perseverance and an extraordinary ability to communicate.
In 1980, America had a lot of problems to solve: gas lines, interest rates that were very high, huge inflation, communist structures were becoming more powerful and the situation of the Americans held hostage in Iran.
But Reagan believed that this is the most important problem: the American people lost faith in themselves.
He always believed in the idea of saying directly to the people the issues, ideas, beliefs and solutions he will apply: the plan for economic recovery, the tragedies in Beirut, about the challenges of the Middle East, about his belief in peace through strength, about the victories behind the negotiations with the Soviet Union, and also his farewell to the US in January 1989.
President Reagan had a dream: to bring Air Force One to the people. This dream became a reality. The plane made its last presidential flight on August 30, 2001, and is exhibited in the library for everyone who wants to take a tour.
Image credit: Stusviews/commons.wikimedia.org
You will learn how this plane took President Reagan in a variety of countries in its mission to end the cold war, and bring a better future for generations to come.
With this aircraft specifically, traveled seven presidents. Of these, very few had historical journeys such as Ronald Reagan: Reykjavik, Moscow, Berlin and so on, thus having the opportunity to offer the world his message about hope and freedom.
In this plane there were a lot of discussions and historical events: President Nixon comming home following his resignation, President Ford to meet Brezhnev, President Carter to Germany to meet our 52 american hostages on their way home from Iran, and Ronald Reagan to Berlin, where he had the courage to ask Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
Among other things you will find in the library, are the exhibits from Rancho del Cielo(The Ranch in the Sky), that capture the feelings Reagan had toward his beloved ranch. He said at one point: “There’s nothing as good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse”.
There is also a library section which is dedicated to Mrs. Reagan. She said at one point that her life really began when she met her husband.
Reagan said: “what do you say about someone who gives your life meaning? What do you say about someone who’s always there with support and understanding, someone who makes sacrifices so that your life will be easier and more successful?”
This highlights the importance of family and appreciation that Reagan had for his wife.
Outside the library, you will find a piece of the Berlin Wall. Ronald Reagan received this 6 ton piece for the library in 1990, in memory of the 131 victims who lost their lives and millions of brave citizens who have broken the wall.
While you see this symbol of oppression and communism, you realize that it is now in the open, surrounded by freedom, in total contrast to its original purpose.
President Reagan said that the wall has destroyed families, dreams and hopes. When it was brought down, the president was not surprised. Because, as he said, the human desire to have freedom, can be satisfied in one way: Freedom.
This portion of the wall highlights a stark contrast: colorful on the west, and desolate and lifeless on the east side.
“General secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” said Ronald Reagan in his speech.
We invite you to bring your children and grandchildren to the Reagan library, to see this section of the Berlin Wall, and reflect on its historical significance.
President Reagan left this world on June 4, 2004. Above the grave site the is a quote from the president:
“I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life””
I hope you enjoyed this journey. Please visit the library to understand the legacy of freedom that Ronald Reagan gave us, and to honor the principles that he left as the guiding direction for a better future.