Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter with President George and Barbara Bush


Easter weekend brought us to College Station, Texas for the sole purpose of visiting the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  Let me preface this post by saying our visit does not necessarily reflect our political views…we just really like presidential libraries and museums.  Since I am not one for always following tradition, going to a museum instead of scavenging for Easter eggs is just fine with me. 


"The Day the Wall Came Down" is an impressively powerful statue by Veryl Goodnight that celebrates the
Berlin Wall coming down.  The horses are a symbol of the human spirit and represent freedom
from oppression.
One of the most iconic symbols of a President is the
presidential limousine.
The museum, which documents the 41st president’s life and political career, originally opened in 1997 but went through a complete renovation in 2007 to modernize the exhibits.  It sits on the huge Texas A&M University campus.   A short 18-minute film orients visitors to the museum and gives a brief overview of the President and Mrs. Bush’s lives.  The museum is highly entertaining with a myriad of exhibits including the oval office, a replica of Camp David, the presidential limousine, Bush’s favorite cigarette boat, clothes, and  gifts of state.  We opted for the $3 audio wand which was a great compliment to the displays, interactive kiosks, videos, games, and historic documents.  After 2 ½ hours we found ourselves only half way through the museum.  We were learning that the Bush’s were more than just a president and lady, with a dog, who likes to wear pearls.  

The beginning of the museum offers a glimpse into Bush's childhood and family history.
One of the most eye-catching exhibits is the 1944 Avenger Torpedo Bomber plane that hangs in the beginning of the museum.  The plane is a replica of one flown by Bush during his military service in World War II.  At the age of 18 he enlisted in the Navy after feeling the call of duty experienced by so many young men in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Bush earned his wings at the very young age of 19 making him the youngest aviator in the Navy at the time.  One of his most memorable experiences was crash landing in the Pacific after a bombing run and being rescued by a U.S. submarine.  His two co-pilots died and it led him to believe that God had other plans for him.    

The Avenger perched precariously over exhibits.
The Bush journey westward to Texas began
with a 1947 red Studebaker.  Despite being born
in Massachusetts, he considers himself a Texan.
After his military service Bush enrolled in Yale University and graduated in an astounding 2 ½ years.  With a degree in economics, he went to work in the oil business and he relocated his young family to Texas – the state he considers home.  His determination and rapid success led him to form his own company, Zapata Oil Company, and become a pioneer in offshore drilling when he started Zapata Offshore at the young age of 30 and a millionaire at the slightly older age of 40. 

Bush inevitably went into politics and landed a seat in the U.S. Senate.  A call from President Nixon brought him into the fray of international affairs when he was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations.  Shortly thereafter, he assumed the role of Chairman of the Republican National Party (against the wishes and advice of his wife Barbara) during the tumultuous time of Watergate and when the Republican Party was severely battered and bruised.  Before eventually making it to the White House as Ronald Regan’s Vice President, Bush served as the envoy to China and as Director of the CIA.  

Betsy and George at the United Nations. 
After serving two terms as Vice President, Bush won the presidential nod in 1989.  While in office, he saw the end of the cold war when the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union dissolved but the beginning of the Persian Gulf War.  His domestic policy and accomplishments seem to be his proudest and there is a large display on the subject – including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Clean Air Acts.  The museum display has interactive kiosks where you can explore his policies in more detail. 

The museum captures the important trips that Bush made during his eight years being a Vice-President.
He traveled an estimated 1.3 million miles.
The 12-foot high section of the Berlin Wall - one of the most recognizable symbols of the Cold War.
The exhibit also features video and interactive kiosks. 
Part of the Gulf War exhibit which also features a Situation Room where visitors can learn
about events and decisions that led up to the war.
The Bush's are most proud of their life of service and feel privileged to continue volunteering. They feel the greatest values are family, friends, faith, and public service are rock-solid values that have guided them through the challenges of their lives.

The Bush's daughter Robin died at the young age of three from leukemia.  Cancer has remained a cause they
are passionate about.
One of the most powerful gifts the President received was a door  from the people of Kuwait.  According to Kuwaiti custom, when a man gives you the key to his home, he is your friend for life and when a man gives you the door to his home, you are a member of his family.  The brass plates on the side of the door are inscribed with the names of U.S. service men and women that died during the war.
The museum is a definite “don’t miss” if you are in the area if nothing more than for history’s sake.  
Barbara's role as first lady is highlighted in the museum.  You can sit in the replica of their living area in the White House and listen to narratives by the First Lady and the President.
The First Lady adopted the cause of literacy and is proud of her contributions to improving literacy rates and enhancing libraries across the country.
Bring your kids, they have an educational game which is played throughout the museum and the First Dog "Millie's" dog house.

2 comments:

  1. Regardless of political views, Presidential libraries are interesting to visit as they often hi-lite aspects of a president (and his family) that are not seen by the public while they are in office.

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  2. Texas A & M is just a great campus in general. Yes the library but all of the campus is wonderful to walk through! Glad you enjoyed your time!

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