Saturday, December 03, 2005

California Dreamin' 2

My weekend in Los Angeles with my sister, Cathy, and her husband, Bryan, has begun.

We started out last night by going to the opening of a photography exhibit in Pasadena. I'll be writing about that event later.

Today we went to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.

The tour was at once educational, informative, nostalgic, and moving. Listening to even a short excerpt of "The Speech" ("You and I have a rendezvous with destiny...") brought tears to my eyes.

Let the pictures speak for themselves: The Reagan Library, photoblogged, follows.

That's me on the far right. Naturally.

Unless you look closely, you can miss this GOP elephant topiary near the main entrance to the library, as it blends in with the other shrubbery.

A statue of President Reagan greets all visitors with a bronze smile.

The Boeing 707 used as Air Force One during the Reagan administration is now hangared permanently in an addition to the Reagan Library. That's my sister, Cathy Biermann, on the left, with my brother-in-law, Bryan.

More Air Force One.

The Air Force One hangar has the best lighting for photography of all the rooms in the Reagan Museum, so I took a lot of pictures in it.

The Marine One helicopter is also housed in the Air Force One hangar.

So is a presidential limousine ...

... with its special license plate.

Steps away from Air Force One is a replica of an Irish pub, The Ronald Reagan. To our disappointment, the beer taps and bottles of spirits behind the bar are just for show. No alcoholic beverages are served, just an odd assortment of soft drinks like "Leninade," some kind of Soviet ginger ale. And we were so looking forward to a frothy pint of Guinness...

... I mean, isn't that false advertising?

One of my preoccupations during the Reagan administration was civil defense. It was nice to see it acknowledged. (Not my role, per se, but the topic itself.)

Reminders of the Cold War are found throughout the Reagan Museum, such as this replica of Checkpoint Charlie, where the Soviet and free sections of Berlin intersected ...

... but somehow I doubt the Soviet guards were so passive and waxen.

Ronald Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." And the Berlin Wall was torn down.

There's something impish about a "Reagan's Country Cafe" on the "Berlin Wall Terrace." It's like building a Wal-Mart in Manhattan.

According to a sign posted nearby, former big-band boy singer Merv Griffin donated a replica of the White House South Lawn that serves as the Reagan Museum's backyard.

Since last year, a new focal point for visitors is the Ronald Reagan gravesite.

Anything but ostentatious, nothing at the memorial even mentions the many accomplishments of Ronald Reagan -- just his name and dates of birth and death.

A visit to the Reagan Library and Museum can make you think that the occupant of the White House is a man of principle, character, intelligence, and focus; that he has a grasp of world affairs; and that he embraces true conservative principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited government, with its authority narrowly and specifically defined.

But then you realize that this is only a museum and a memorial, and Ronald Reagan is no longer with us.


Tim said...


James Young said...

I have a case in Ventura County, so I frequently visit the Reagan Library when I travel for it. However, I haven't been since the Air Force One Pavillion opened, so I appreciate your pictures, Rick.

One thing you didn't mention, though: the proximity of the section of the Berlin Wall to Reagan's grave. For my money, that's his true headstone, and a more appropriate one I can't imagine. And the vista is magnificent.

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