When we started out on our travelling adventures in 2013, we stopped in Springfield, Illinois to see the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. At that time, we decided it would be fun to see all the Presidential Libraries at some point in the future. Fast forward to March 2018, and we finally made it to our second library, for the 43rd President of the United States, President George W Bush, located on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. First lady Laura Bush attended SMU, which is why it is located there.
The museum is laid out in an easy to follow format, consisting of the four principles important to the Bush’s: Freedom, Responsibility, Opportunity and Compassion. There is full-size reproduction of the Oval Office, complete with the furniture, statues, and photographs that were on display in the real Oval Office. I opted to check out the desk, with my sister LuAnn as “Secretary of Education” standing by!
And of course I needed a conference with my “Cabinet” members.
The museum starts out with panels detailing the early years of Bush’s life and his family.
Then you watch a short movie narrated by President Bush, with his reflections on what it meant to be president, and how the tragedy of 9/11 changed the agenda of his presidency. Then you enter a room with one of his signature pieces of legislation, “No Child Left Behind.”
One of First Lady Laura Bush’s platforms was “Ready to Read, Ready to Learn,” to improve early childhood education. On display were the books from a reading list that she recommended for children of all ages. We recognized many of the titles, as books that we had read as children.
President Bush’s passion is baseball, and there is a display of many of the autographed balls and bats on display throughout the museum. He was the first former Little League player to be elected President of the United States, and started a new White House tradition to play tee ball games on the grounds of the White House in 2001. The bat in this display case was signed by 46 of the 62 living members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Priceless!
When you round the corner of the museum, from the display of his early domestic policy work, the lighting is darker, and you are faced with a very in-depth, day-by-day timeline of the events surrounding the 9/11 Terrorist Act. The museum contains steel from the World Trade Center, and has a memorial wall listing the names of every victim of the attack.
The television screens on the memorial walls shows the attacks at each of the locations.
There are display cases showing speeches, letters, newspapers and other memorabilia from the days following the attack. This display case contains the American flag that flew over the White House on September 11, 2001.
Another display case contains memorabilia from the war in Iraq, including the 9mm Glock Model 18C Automatic Pistol confiscated from Saddam Hussein during his capture on December 13, 2003.
Before 9/11, there were 22 federal government agencies handling homeland security issues. In 2002, President Bush, and Congress, created the Department of Homeland Security, and put all those agencies into one department.
Many other major events occurred during the Bush presidency, and the museum has many displays talking about the financial crisis in 2008, Hurricane Katrina, Immigration Reform, and the Environment.
Once you are out of the policy area of the museum, there is a fun display on life in the White House, with the official White House Easter eggs given out every year…
To photographs, china and formal wear worn at official State dinners…
And some of the sports related items given to the President during visits by many sports teams.
President Bush had two dogs during his White House days, Barney and Miss Beazley. They have their own display case complete with toys, photos, letters from children and their dog dishes used when they traveled on Air Force One!
Every President receives gifts from visiting foreign dignitaries, as well as citizens from around the world. There were many display cases filled with jewelry, swords (seemed to be a popular gift), vases, figurines…
…and things that made you go “what where they thinking?!” Like these silver stirrups with gold, ruby, and emerald accents from the King of Morocco.
At the time of our visit, the museum was hosting a special exhibit, on the influence of the First Ladies. I did not take any photographs in that exhibit, but it was very informative, and there were many, many active first ladies that worked hand-in-hand with their husbands.
My Quote for the Day is taken from a quote on the wall of the museum: