Reagan Presidential Library in California

In July 2006, Jeff Filo, Glen Sibbeston and I, who were attending the TOC annual summer seminar, visited the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, located north of Los Angeles.

The Reagan Library, completed in 1991, is built on 100 acres on top of a hill with sweeping vistas intensified by the dry desert air. In 2000, the library was enlarged with a new wing containing the Air Force One that President Reagan used. In 2004, President Reagan was laid to rest here with full honors mourned by a grateful nation.

Most historians now consider Ronald Reagan the most important President of the second half of the 20th century. He cut the 70% marginal tax rate in half, fixed (along with Paul Volker at the Fed) 13% inflation & 20% interest rates from Jimmy Carter, restarted the economy, and expanded & popularized IRA accounts, the foundation for financial security for tens of millions of Americans.

In foreign affairs, President Reagan identified the Soviet Union for what it was: an Evil Empire. He launched the Strategic Defense Initiative, dubbed Star Wars, which was instrumental in the the process of destroying the Soviet Union and which today is our defense against North Korean missles. Margaret Thatcher, in her moving eulogy to Reagan, called him the "Great Liberator" because he liberated hundreds of millions from communism.

Before my mother was married, she sang on WHO radio in Des Moines and knew Dutch, as Reagan was called. He was the sports announcer. Reagan asked my mother's best friend Esther out on a date, but she declined. When I was a senior in high school, I saw Reagan when he spoke at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium on February 27, 1962. I realized and reported at the time that Reagan was running for President, and 18 years later he was elected!

The Reagan Library is reached after a winding drive up a hill. It was bathed in light during our visit, and flowering plants surround it. It is a short, delightful walk from the parking lot to the main entrance. We noticed a wreath laid at Reagan's statue at the actual entrance.

Entrance 1 Entrance 2 Entrance 3 Entrance 4 Entrance 5
Glen & Jeff near Entrance An Elephant Greets Us Main Entrance Inner Courtyard Reagan Statue

There are no photos from the library proper because flash photos are not allowed. In the biographical display, I noticed that when Reagan was a life guard as a teenager in Illinois that he saved 77 people. Next to the library proper, there is a new wing built to house Air Force One. This wing cost $30 million plus $10 million for the airplane. It was fun to tour Air Force One. It was surprising how modest the appointments were for the President. He had to sleep on a couch, not in a bed.

AirForceOne 1 AirForceOne 2 AirForceOne 3 AirForceOne 4 AirForceOne 5
Model of Reagan Library Air Force One Mural Lower Floor Outside Panorama Air Force One Tour

On the lower floor, we had a good lunch and admired the magnificient view. We also studied the 12' x 120' mural entitled "History of the Flying White House". Since Glen is a helicopter pilot, he could explain details of the Presidential helicopter, Marine One.

LowerFloor 1 LowerFloor 2 LowerFloor 3 LowerFloor 4 LowerFloor 5
Lower Floor Jeff & Glen by Marine One (l) Presidential Planes Mural (c) Presidential Planes Mural (r) Presidential Planes Mural

Outside the library, there are magnificient vistas. There is a four ton piece of the Berlin War given Reagan in 1990, a fitting tribute to the Great Liberator, and a reminder of his famous statement: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Outside 1 Outside 2 Outside 3 Outside 4 Outside 5
Typical Desert Vista Visitors Study Berlin Wall Sign Explaining Berlin Wall Typical Section of Library Don't Believe the Sign!

In 2004, many people around the world were glued to their TV sets watching the elaborate week-long state funeral and the outpouring of affection for the former President. The final ceremony took place outside the Reagan Library, the final resting place of the beloved Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Grave 1 Grave 2 Grave 3 Grave 4 Grave 5
Grave Adjacent to Library Glen Pays his Respects Ronald Reagan Grave Site Ronald Reagan Headstone Ronald Reagan Credo