It would be difficult to imagine a more ideal location for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum that the one it has. Situated on a ridge of the Santa Susana Mountains it offers a view to the Pacific Ocean on one side and on the other the rugged hill country of Southern California, a place where the President has resided most of his adult life.
This Writer has made several visits to the Presidential Library and never tires of its dramatic setting and the meaning one gets of the institution of the American Presidency. Most recently we visited the Museum to view the exhibit "American Heroes of World War ll". Which brought back a good many memories, some good, some bad. This exhibit opened on August 11 and will continue through January 12, 2003.
It includes the uniforms, weapons and equipment of all the services in World War ll as well as movie presentations and some stories of heroes of that era. For this writer it was probably his last look at a M1 Rifle, just like the one he carried everywhere for over a year and finally dropped into a stream in the Ardennes Forest on a dark December 19th, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.
Our favorite permanent exhibit is the exact full-scale replica of the Oval Office with President Reagan on tape in his own words serving as your personal tour guide. As the President pointed out so poignantly on the tape the Oval Office was never his but only one he used until the next President was elected by the American People.
Other permanent exhibits display Ronald Reagan's Hollywood film career which included over 50 movies as well as his eight years of Governor of California. One of the newest exhibits is a section of the Berlin Wall which finally came down thanks to the policies of the President.
There is also an exhibit which marks the deadly events when the assassination attempt was made on President Reagan's life. Here can be seen the actual X-Ray of the bullet in the President's lung and a TV Replay of the event as it happened.
The Library and Museum offers a full schedule of events. In Summer a Concert Series in the Courtyard where visitors can enjoy the music with a picnic lunch.
Exciting times are just ahead for the Presidential Library which will be the final home for Air Force One Special Air Mission 27000. Ground was broken in April for a $20 million expansion of the Library which will include the Air Force One pavilion and a new auditorium.
The Boeing 707 is a part of American History being used by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and H. W. Bush as the lead plane and by Presidents Clinton and W. Bush as backup plane. The new exhibit is due to open in April 2004.
It was the plane that flew Richard Nixon home after his resignation from office and Gerald Ford to Washington after his ascent to the presidency. It is the plane that flew President Reagan on his three diplomatic summits, to Moscow, Reykjavik and Geneva, which slowly brought the Cold War to a close.
Last year the Ronald Reagan Library was visited by over 200,000 people. It is easily accessible from all over Southern California on Freeway 118 in the Simi Valley, appropriately named the Ronald Reagan Freeway. The way to the Library is well marked with prominent signs.
The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with $5. general admission, $3 for seniors and children under 15 free. For more information call 800 410-8354.
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