The world is full of vast amounts of potential world heritage sites. A special few belong to a unique set of locations, located right here in the United States. I am of course talking about presidential libraries. These libraries are created for the most part by the president, for the president. They use them to essentially showcase their life, personal and presidential. This includes academic life, relationships, pre-president employment, and as well their choices as president. In my personal opinion and from my own experience, specifically in regards to The Ronald Reagan library, I feel has had a significant impact on my life.
My first visit to the library occurred when Ronald Reagan passed away and his body traveled across the United States to finally be put to rest at his library atop the mountains of Simi Valley, California. As young as I was, about 10 at the time, I had no idea of the importance or depth of me being there to witness such an event. Yet, many years later along with subsequent visits to the library I have been moved by a man and his ideals who lead my country years before I was even born. The library contains many important relics of his life, and the many momentous feats he accomplished. However, before I discuss those I believe it is important to draw attention to the detail that the library was built there in direct accordance to President Reagan’s appreciation for the nature and beauty of southern California. One visit to the library a docent told me that when President Reagan stood atop that mountain, he could see the Channel Islands on a clear day. These islands have been fairly important to the culture of southern California, specifically to me as my first summer camp for Boy Scouts was on Catalina Island. While seeming irrelevant I find this to be an incredibly awesome feature of the library. It combines his personal love for nature with the recollection of his life. I have yet to forget the day of being told this detail for I feel as simple as it is, it gives people something to connect to with the President, and that he was no’t “politics all the time.”
Jumping ahead a few years, I found myself once again at the library when I was about 16 and had just finished taking an AP United States History course. During the course I had learned much about the history of the United States, and towards the very end much of Reagan’s presidency and his political ideals. From the Star Wars program to his meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan accomplished many things in order to not only perpetuate domestic growth but international growth. The exhibits at the library detailing his struggle to tear down the Berlin wall and his eventual success are by far my favorite part. The wall is a symbol of the past, and a literal barrier that barred a country in half, yet to President Reagan it meant a lot more than that. It symbolized a dark past that he wanted to move forward from, and with his goal in mind he set out to accomplish it. He put forth incredible amounts of effort to tear down the wall in order to reunite a country, and as he made these efforts he always kept his head straight. Although its deconstruction occurred in the November of 1989, the words and actions of President Reagan are still enough to inspire a nation, at least in my opinion.
Although the life of President Reagan has come to an end, it is apparent to me that his legacy is one that will never be forgotten. Furthermore, thanks to the existence of his library it is more than likely his words and actions will remain engraved in history for quite some time. Being the young scholar that I am and a young leader from my experience as an Eagle Scout, the values and lessons I have learned from his lifetime of decisions is almost unimaginable. Yet, from his life in the country’s past I have developed new found ideas for my own life in the country’s present, and without a doubt means of creating progress for the future.