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Americans Celebrate Reagan Centennial

Reut Cohen |
February 27, 2011 | 2:24 a.m. PST

Senior Editor

Celebrating what would have been his 100th birthday, nationwide events in honor of late President Ronald Reagan are taking place across the country. Located in the picturesque hills of Simi Valley, the Reagan Presidential Library’s 15 million dollar restoration includes new programs and exhibits to commemorate the former president.

Reagan is often credited with ending the Cold War and improving an ailing economy. He is among the most highly ranked American presidents.

“We’ve done some research on this. The overwhelming majority of people think that President Reagan inspired freedom and changed the world,” said Robert Bauer, director of external affairs at the Ronald Reagan Foundation. “When the Berlin Wall fell and a new day dawned in Eastern Europe that was a symbol of freedom.”

Air Force One Pavilion at the Reagan Presidential Library. (Reut Cohen)
Air Force One Pavilion at the Reagan Presidential Library. (Reut Cohen)
The exhibits commemorate Reagan's life from boyhood to the announcement that he would withdraw from public life due to Alzheimer’s disease. Artifacts of various sizes are on display at the museum— from a Boeing 707 aircraft to a red dress Nancy Reagan wore at a royal ball.

“We’re the most visited presidential library in the world,” said Bauer. “We have about 450,000 guests per year but we expect to increase in the centennial year.”

The library is something of a tourist magnet, drawing both Reagan fans and those curious about the former president.

“I’m not sure I wanted to go,” said Ellen Lebowitz, a museum guest who visited the library with her husband. “I hate to say it we’re both raging liberal democrats—and I came away very impressed.”

Lebowitz’s husband agreed.

“I have, I think, more respect for President Reagan than I did when he was in office,” said Howard Lebowitz.

Although revered by the GOP for steadfast conservative policy, Reagan started out as a Democrat but switched parties in 1962. His vision continues to be invoked by Republicans and Democrats alike.



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