As a final detour of my trip to Southern California, I stopped by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA and spent a good few hours browsing through exhibits and memorabilia that marked the Reagan Presidency - the suit that 'Dutch' wore when he was sworn into office, a full-scale replica of the Oval Office and its furnishings as used by Reagan during his years ... along with pieces of his secular life, like movie posters from his days as a Hollywood actor and photographs of his beloved horse on his ranch.
At the end of the tour, visitors were given a chance to sign a guestbook that would be sent to Nancy Reagan. I accepted the opportunity and wrote the following in my fountain-pen longhand script:
Dear Mister Reagan
As an immigrant who came with his parents (themselves refugees from China's murderous Cultural Revolution) to this country over twenty years ago, your Presidency has always had a special place in my heart. Thank you for taking a unflinching stand in a faint-hearted world that, at times, seemed to know neither honor nor courage ... to show resolve and determination in the face of evil.
While some who have never stepped foot outside this country and known firsthand the horrors of the totalitarian regimes you've fought may disparage your accomplishments and service, I speak for my parents and brother when I say that you will always be loved and admired in the Chang family.
With our deepest gratitude,
Kai Peter Chang
Chinese by ancestry,
Taiwanese by birth,
American by choice.
Entrance to the Reagan Library
Seal of the President of the United States of America
Statue of 'Dutch' Reagan and gifts/tributes from well-wishers
A jar of Reagan's favorite candy for his journey home ...
Young Ronald Reagan - football star
News clippings & pamphlets ...
Reagan/Bush campaign collateral, 1980
"I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear ..."
Replica of Reagan's Oval Office
Another view of the Oval Office
The kitchen of the White House
Photos from private moments in RR's life
A 10,000-jellybean portrait of the 40th President, gifted to the Reagan Foundation
A piece of the Berlin Wall.
The view out from the Reagan Presidential Library
View from the lawn of the Library back in
Notice the airplane fuselage? That's going to be part of the
Air Force One display of the Reagan Library (to be completed in 2005)
Reagan's words, etched in stone ...
"I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.
I know that for America there will always be a bright new dawn ahead.
Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you."
- Ronald Reagan, Nov 5, 1994
PS: Given the size and diversity of my readership, I know there are those among you who would disagree with Ronald Reagan's politics and policies, and that is fine and good - after all, there is nothing more quintessentially American than our right to dissent with and criticize our elected leaders, both current and former. Yet I must say it was with great distress I witnessed the unbridled savagery and odious cheap shots taken at our late President within hours of his passing ... authored, in some cases, by people I once held in high esteem.
The comment section of this journal is, as always, your opportunity to sound off and share your thoughts and reactions to my words ... so please feel free to speak your mind. In the three years I've kept this journal, I have maintained an 'open door' policy and continue to welcome disagreement and dissent from anyone who cares enough to write. But for those of you who consider Reagan your nemesis (or even enemy) and wish to carry on your vendetta onto these pages, I'd like to share with you a quote from one of my favorite films in recent memory Troy:
Achilles: If I do this for you, it changes nothing. You're still my enemy come morning.
Priam: You're still my enemy tonight. But even enemies can show respect.