Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More History

Today the Tadpole and I decided to visit the Nixon Library. One of the draws was the "World's Largest LEGO Flag" which was on display in the lobby of the Library. We found a couple of caches in the morning before getting there and then we found the parking lot for the library. We walked into the lobby of the library and there it was, a massive LEGO flag. It was rather impressive. I asked the Tadpole if he was ready to go and he gave me this quirky look as if to say, "What, are you kidding?" It was then he realized that I was.

We paid the admission price, spoke with a docent for a little bit to plan our day and then we were off to explore. Being early on a weekday, the place wasn't crowded at all so we decided to visit the President and Mrs. Nixon's graves first. I decided to take a couple of pictures, being fairly certain that Mrs. Nixon's grave hadn't been waymarked in the Grave of a Famous Person waymark category. I'm still waiting for approval on that particular waymark.

After paying our respects, we then headed over to his home where he was born and toured that and then it was off to walk through Marine One, the helicopter that ferried four Presidents from Kennedy to Ford to and from the White House, Camp David and Andrews Air Force Base. This is the same helicopter you see in the famous picture when Nixon departed the White House for the last time in August 1974.

Then it was time to tour the museum. The museum has most of the factual parts of Nixon's life down and there are some interesting displays throughout. My favorite part is the hall of world leaders. In this room, there are life sized models of the world's leaders from Nixon's time as Vice President and President. This was the third time I'd been to the Library. The first time was a month after Nixon had died and the crowds were huge, so they had the area roped off, so you could only view them from afar.

Two years ago, my daughter and I revisited the library and that time we got to walk among the leaders. There was Anwar Sadat speaking with Golda Meir. Winston Churchill, Charles DeGaulle and Conrad Adenauer of West Germany. Mao Zedung and Cho En Lai were represented as was Shigeru Yoshida, Prime Minister of Japan in the 40s and 50s. The last two statues were Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev. Growing up, many of these leaders I'd heard of were bigger than life in my mind and now I could walk among them.

The first thing that stands out is how short Nikita Khrushchev was. He was one of the most powerful men in the world and yet stood only 5 foot 4 inches tall, proving that size doesn't really matter. As you can see in the picture, he's several inches shorter than the Tadpole who stands 5 foot 7 inches tall. The next thing that stands out was how massive Charles DeGaulle was. Once again, compare his statue with the Tadpole standing right next to him. I estimate DeGaulle to be almost a foot taller than my son. DeGaulle was truly bigger than life.

Leaving this exhibit, we entered another exhibit that had several international exhibits including a segment of the Berlin Wall. As soon as I saw it, I remembered seeing it two years ago with my daughter and had also remembered being a little confused because at that time, I thought the section was supposed to have been at the Reagan Library. The incongruity of the situation was something that my mind didn't really want to deal with, so I just put it out of my mind thinking that it was just one of those tricks my mind was playing on me. Somehow I must have made a mistake as to where the segment of the Berlin Wall was.

So today, I saw a second segment of the Berlin Wall, just about 10 days after seeing one at the Reagan Library. I knew for a fact that this segment at the Nixon Library hadn't been waymarked, so I took a picture. I'm not sure the picture is the best since I had to hand hold the camera as the library doesn't allow flash photography inside the building. But I now own two waymarks concerning the Berlin Wall, the Reagan segment which I waymarked last month and now the Nixon segment which was approved today in the Preserved Architectural Remnants and Ruins category.

At the moment, we have 12 Presidential libraries, one for every President from Hoover through Clinton. With the addition of George W. Bush's library (#13), only Texas will have more Presidential Libraries than California. But I think California has the two that are closest together geographically. That has been an added bonus for this history buff and the history buff who calls himself the Tadpole. Both of the libraries have some interesting features but overall, I'd say the Reagan library was a little bit better put together. I think part of this was there was a lot of updating to exhibits going on in the Nixon Library.

Before the National Archives took over the Nixon Library in 2007, there wasn't a lot of information on Watergate in the Nixon library. They'd started changing this when I was there two years ago with my daughter, but they still have a lot to do before it's complete. One piece of paper in this part of museum was very striking in its simplicity and that was Nixon's resignation letter to the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. It simply stated, " I hereby resign the office of President of the United States." Dated August 9th, 1974, it was received and initialed by the Secretary of State at 11:35 AM. Interesting how simple the transfer of power can happen in our country.

Pictures were taken at or near the following waymarks:
Berlin Wall Segment - Richard Nixon Presidential Library

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4 comments:

whatmegmakes said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog the last month or so that I've subscribed to it. I'm just getting into waymarking & I was wondering how you download your waymarks. I can't seem to find a way to download them as a pocket query... like we can do with geocaches. Or along a route... that would come in super handy.

Jim said...

Cool! About 15 years ago, I had a business trip in Riverside and, facing the prospect of working back to LAX around rush hour, looked for something touristy to do. I saw the RMN library was nearby and thought "why not." I found it surprisingly enjoyable, especially the hall of leaders. I had the same impression of the towering DeGaulle.

Webfoot said...

Whatmegmakes -
I've never explored downloading waymarks to look for while traveling. I have certain categories that I enjoy looking for like water towers, famous person's gravesites, national parks and passports stamp locations, things like that. If I see one, I'll take a picture and mark the coordinates. When I get home, I'll input the coordinates and see if it's already been waymarked. If it has, then I visit and post a picture. If it hasn't, then I'll post a new waymark.

With waymarking, there just seems to be so much out there, that when you see something, it probably fits into some kind of category. When I took a picture of the Berlin Wall at the Reagan Library, I wasn't sure where it was going to fit, so I just did a search for Berlin Wall and found one that had already been waymarked in the Architectural Remnants category. I suppose that the Berlin Wall could have its own category if someone really wanted to push it, but since it fit nicely in that other category, I just decided to post it there.

Webfoot said...

Jim,
If you ever get a chance to come back out here, you should try the Reagan Library. It's very good too.