Up the Long Road to the Reagan Library at the Top
|When we visited in June 2011, the library grounds were full of flowers.|
We visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, as part of our 47th Wedding Anniversary celebration. The library is easy to access, since it's in a part of California that so far does not have the traffic problems of larger cities. You can find library hours and directions here. The driveway was long and curvy as it climbed to the library buildings at the top. This is what we saw when we got there.
The view below shows the other side of the entrance.
On the way up we passed this picnic area just before we got to the buildings. If you look toward the back of the photo below you will see part of the enormous parking lot. Parking is free, but some spaces require a long walk up to the building.
|Picnic Area at Reagan Library|
The Library Entrance through the Courtyard
This is the way to enter the courtyard that leads to the main entrance. You pass through the shadow into the light, where you see the fountain in the courtyard.
|Through the Shadows and into the Bright Courtyard|
Here is a better look at the fountain. You can pick up this view at Zazzle as a postcard, a puzzle, blank greeting card, magnet, or beverage coaster set. I show it here as a puzzle. You can click the image if you want to purchase it or see the other products.
|Ronald Reagan Statue|
Once inside the door, you can pay for your admission and proceed to the exhibits. There is an order to it. I went accidentally the wrong way, so I didn't see the displays in the order I should have. But it was still a wonderful walk through Reagan's life － personal, professional, and political. (Note: The docents were wonderfully helpful at getting me back to where I took the wrong turn.)
Ronald Reagan's Early Years
The library's archives reveal that Ronald Reagan grew up in a poor family. He just didn't realize it at the time. His father was a shoe salesman and the family didn't own a home. When young Ronald was 14 he got his first job － digging ditches. Later he worked as a lifeguard during the summers. He saved his money toward tuition to supplement his college scholarship for Eureka College.
Reagan was raised in Dixon, Illinois, and his mother was a devout Christian and a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.) His father was Catholic. Nelle Reagan was known in her church as a prayer warrior. She maintained her ties to the Dixon church even after she moved to California. Her Bible is on display at the Reagan Library, along with many family photos and other family possessions in the exhibit on Reagan's early life.
|Nelle Reagan's Bible|
The Air Force One Pavilion
|Another View of Marine One|
|Front of Air Force One|
|Tail of Air Force One|
The Pavilion also houses the land vehicles the President and those that protected him rode in. You will find President Reagan's 1984 Cadillac limousine and a "follow-up" or "chase" vehicle -- a 1986 Chevrolet Suburban. That vehicle handles on-site communications and transport for the agents protecting the President. I had not realized that when the Presidents travel outside the country, these secure vehicles are transported by air to wherever the President will be . Both vehicles are in the photo below. Please click to see a larger view.
|Part of the Presidential Motorcade|
I just had to add this photo with the limo's Gipper license plate. They sure keep the limousine shiny. It might as well be a mirror.
|The "Gipper" License Plate|
The Berlin Wall
Perhaps some best remember Ronald Reagan for his appeal in a speech: "Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall." As we know, the wall finally did come down. One of the displays that really hit me was the reconstruction of part of the Berlin Wall. Here is one view of it. The hole is there for children to crawl through to explore.
|Berlin Wall Exhibit|
Here's a genuine piece of the wall that is displayed outside of the buildings so you can see both sides.
This is the drab side that would have faced inside the wall.
|Genuine Berlin Wall Fragment|
This is the other side, facing outside, where people drew pictures and wrote messages. I believe this part is particularly beautiful.
|The More Artistic Side of the Berlin Wall Fragment|
Learn more about Ronald Reagan in these books, or display his wisdom with this wall art.
Here is Reagan's famous "Tear down this wall" speech.
These photos didn't fit under the headings above. One exhibit reflects Reagan's love for horses. I'm not sure if it depicts his favorite horse, El Alamein, or not. I read that El Alamein was buried on Reagan's Santa Barbara Ranch. On the wall around this exhibit there is a life-size photo of Reagan riding his horse. That is not visible in this photo.
|Reagan loved his horses.|
A fitting image to complete this post is the final resting place of Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004. The lettering on the monument is too light to read in the photo, but this is what it says:
"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"
Many exhibits deal with Reagan's relationships with the leaders of other nations. You will also see a full-size replica of the Oval Office with Reagan's desk. You can even get your picture taken behind Reagan's podium with his seal. Do you recognize those who who are listening?
If you visit the Reagan Presidential Library, be sure to leave enough time to enjoy it all. You should be able to get through all the exhibits in three to four hours. If you are hungry, there are two dining options available -- a cafe and a pub. You don't need to pay admission to visit the cafe, but the pub doesn't have an outside entrance for the public. You will also probably want to leave some time to walk the grounds.
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