I’ve been in California this past week, researching at both the Reagan and Nixon libraries as part of one of the projects I’m working on during my sabbatical. I’ve promised to provide updates along the way for those of you who are interested, so here’s another one.
The Reagan Library, in particular, is impressive, not only because it’s located on the top of a high hill from where you can see for miles, but also for its beautiful architecture.
As an academic researcher, I got to see a section of the library that most don’t see. I could go behind this rather imposing door into the “inner sanctum.”
Of course, it’s not all glamor. I was there to work—hard—so I thought I’d provide evidence of that:
I was able to take one entire day to walk through the museum. I took my time, reading everything I could and taking photos of significant items I might be able to use in class. For instance, on display is the handwritten copy of Reagan’s final letter to the American people when he discovered he had Alzheimer’s. It was his last public communication:
Also poignant, for me at least, was what Margaret Thatcher wrote in the condolence book at Reagan’s funeral. She wrote simply, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” echoing the words of Jesus.
I hadn’t been to the Library since 2003, so the new addition for me was the Air Force One exhibition, complete with the actual plane Reagan used while president.
This led, of course, to the obligatory photo everyone takes when entering Air Force One:
Not sure my presidential wave passes muster, but it will have to do.
Another highlight of the trip was the opportunity I had to interview the man who served as Reagan’s pastor from 1964 until 1993, Rev. Donn Moomaw. What a wonderful time of fellowship we had, and I came away with some fascinating insights not only into Reagan’s spiritual status but also into the heart and mind of one who took his pastor’s role seriously.
The other significant event of the week was a trip to Reagan’s Ranch, but that will be the subject tomorrow.