Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 5:41 am | Fair 53º

 
 
 
 

Donna Polizzi

Here & There

Donna Polizzi: Legacy of Ronald Reagan Comes Alive at Presidential Museum

Just down the road in Simi Valley is a treasure trove of exhibits, records and memorabilia of nation’s 40th president — and Santa Barbara County resident

in a part of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum dedicated to world events, a life-size bronze sculpture depicts President Ronald Reagan with then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, a frequent Cold War negotiating partner. Click to view larger
in a part of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum dedicated to world events, a life-size bronze sculpture depicts President Ronald Reagan with then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, a frequent Cold War negotiating partner. (Donna Polizzi photo)

Exploring The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Ventura County was a journey through the life and legend of our 40th president, Ronald Wilson Reagan. The part-time Santa Barbra County resident was twice elected president, serving from 1981 through 1988, and served two terms as California’s governor, from 1967 through 1974.

The museum is located at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley, a little over an hour east of Santa Barbara, which is about a half-hour east of Reagan’s former mountaintop getaway, Rancho del Cielo, at the top of Refugio Canyon overlooking the majestic Gaviota coast.

Packed inside the museum are Reagan’s papers, speeches and records of his most significant political accomplishments. It’s a monument to Reagan’s presidency, and ultimately his legacy.

The library is one of only 13 presidential libraries maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration. Dedicated 25 years ago, it is both a political shrine and historical museum for a man whose political stature ranks with world leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.

When you first approach the library entrance, you’ll see a magnificent bronze sculpture of Reagan and a stunning painting of first lady Nancy Reagan, who died March 11 and is buried on the museum grounds next to her husband, who died in 2004.

There are so many treasures inside the museum and out. You can actually board Air Force One, in which Reagan flew more than 660,000 miles to 46 states and 26 nations. Visiting the exhibit and learning how Reagan changed the face of global diplomacy was a true eye-opener.

You can also see an exact replica of the Oval Office, which each president decorates to suit personal tastes. Inspired by his beloved West, Reagan added Western art, including a collection of bronze saddles, and, of course, a jar of trademark jelly beans on his desk! While in office, Reagan received regular shipments of sweets from Robitaille’s Candies​ in Carpinteria.

If you look closely as you peer into the Oval Office, you’ll notice that the wooden base of the president’s desk appears to have been altered. This is because Reagan added a two-inch base to the desk to accommodate his 6-foot-2 frame and to keep the desk drawers from hitting his knees.

Two plaques visible on the desk convey Reagan’s inspirational can-do spirit. One reads “It Can Be Done” and the other says “There’s no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

Outside is a large piece of the Berlin Wall, which was a gift from the late Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr.

Among the exhibits at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum is a photo of President Ronald Reagan and Polish President Lech Walesa with a piece of the Berlin Wall. Click to view larger
Among the exhibits at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum is a photo of President Ronald Reagan and Polish President Lech Walesa with a piece of the Berlin Wall. (Donna Polizzi photo)

It was fascinating to learn and be reminded of the life and legacy that a summer lifeguard, radio sports announcer, Hollywood actor, Army officer, governor and president had on our nation. Countless people around the world enjoy greater freedoms, more economic prosperity and better lives as a result of Reagan’s leadership.

One of his most famous acts was the 1982 income tax cut that is credited with unleashing 72 months of uninterrupted economic growth, resulting in the creation of 18 million new jobs.

The Reagan museum features hundreds of artifacts and dozens of interactive displays for visitors of all ages to explore. There are 18 galleries that pay tribute to Reagan and his accomplishments by capturing his irrepressible and patriotic spirit, his respect for individual liberty, his firm belief in global democracy and his unequivocal support of economic opportunity.

The library really is a must-see for any freedom-loving American, regardless of your political affiliation.

You are taken back to that amazing time in our nation’s history when optimism reigned. The library and museum is a shrine to that greatness to be sure, because it especially celebrates a truly great nation by honoring a genuinely honorable and decent man who believed America was “a shining city upon  hill.”

Click here for more information about The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.

— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys to the Coast, a free Central Coast travel resource providing honest recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >