It's da bomb.
I got to visit Reagan's library while in old California and I feel like I finally appreciate what a tremendous individual he was. Not that I was ever too much affected by the cynicism of those who mocked his movies or derisively pointed out that Nancy was his second wife. But it's so incredibly moving to go to that building where they have so many mini (lol....many mini???) movies of him giving his inspirational speeches and taking the higher (if harder) road.
He was possibly the best president America has ever had.
I confess that a lot of the displays and speeches had me in tears (especially the Cold War room) but then I have evolved into a very lugubrious person. It takes very little to dissolve me into a helpless puddle of salty misery...but I digress. Did you know that they have George Gipp's sweater there? And John McCain's Vietnam POW bracelet thing? Oh...Reagan on Vietnam was priceless (why am still surprised when he's awesome?) "We must never again send our men to fight a war they are not allowed to win". Tell me about it.
Did you know that Reagan was a life guard in high school and saved 77 people from drowning? Another cool tidbit: At the conference thing in Reykyavik, when relations between us and the USSR kind of broke down, or at least the whole talks ended badly...well, Gorbachev refused to give in to our demands and then had the temerity to demand that we dismantle the SDI. So Reagan basically said "that's it, we're leaving". And the picture there is the one of them leaving (also the only picture there where Reagan looked even annoyed, let alone furious). The guy who took the picture said he heard Gorbachev say "I don't know what else I could have done" and Reagan whirled on him and replied "You could have said 'yes' ", got in the car and slammed the door in his face.
That's my kind of diplomacy! None of this namby pamby wishy washy sort of stuff that goes on at the UN. Reagan said he had made a promise to the American people, and he intended to keept it.
The day we went was the twentieth anniversary of the "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech (June 12). We got to see Reagan's copy of the speech, including his last minute emendations and corrections. Too awesome for words.
They have the Air Force One that he flew in there and we got to wander around in it. Now I want one.
Btw, the picture above is of the conference in Iceland. Reagan looks mightily ticked off and Gorbachev looks depressed.