Archive for Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidential museum visit causes reflection on recent history

February 16, 2015

One of the highlights of a recent trip to Dallas, Texas, was a visit to the George W. Bush Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Certainly the biggest highlight was visiting with our daughter and her family. I would add there was one other highlight: temperatures in the 70s compared with the 40s here.

George W. Bush is the only president that I’ve seen in person, and that was a long time before he became governor of Texas or President of the United States. I attended a Texas Rangers’ baseball game in 1986 when he owned the team. He was on the field prior to the game presenting scholarships given by the Rangers. Incidentally we saw his father George H. W. Bush at a Houston Astros game years after he left the presidency. As an aside, the elder Bush’s library is at Texas A&M in College Station.

I have visited several presidential libraries and museums, and they are all very different. The first difference I noted was increased security. When you enter you go through a metal detector. While visitors are given commemorative tickets, you are identified by wearing a stick-on “43” patch. The amount of security surprised me, and I realize that it is important. It is sad when we have to have that level of security at a site honoring a former president.

The library setting is described as being in a 15-acre urban park just as you enter the campus of SMU. Incidentally SMU has a beautiful campus and is the perfect setting for the modern and attractive building.

The museum features a variety of interactive displays. When you enter you are surrounded by a breath-taking diorama which begins with a series of giant color photos of Texas throughout the seasons. This is followed by an amazing display of moving characters depicting work in America. I can’t describe it; you have to see it to believe it.

The museum tells the story of President George W. Bush starting from his youth that highlighted his love of baseball and family.

Even though it is recent history, the displays brought back a lot of memories. For example, do you remember the hanging chads in Florida which held up final results for days? It was one of the closest elections in modern American history and was finally decided by the courts after a pains-taking recount. The entire process was documented in an interesting manner.

One of the most somber displays was that about 9/11 and the cowardly attack which changed America forever and plunged the U.S. into an on-going war against terrorism. In my opinion President Bush’s finest time in office were the days following the attack when he displayed great leadership. This was well documented using TV reports and clips from his diary.

There was a display featuring the other major tragedy during his presidency, Hurricane Katrina, and the government’s response. Another of the major displays was about the “No Child Left Behind” program.

One of the overriding themes in the museum is his love for his family and his wife, Laura. There is even a video featuring his twin daughters, highlighting his sense of humor and his ability to laugh at himself and his love of both Camp David and his ranch.

Probably one of the most interesting displays allowed visitors to view issues and information available to the president on a computer and then to give what their response would have been. Yes, it showed how difficult it is to be president.

The museum has a replica of the oval office and the rose garden. I enjoyed visiting the museum and being reminded of recent events in history.

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