Thursday, May 7, 2015

Visiting the Presidential Libraries

My husband is a real American history buff, something that kind of surprised me since he was born in Somalia.  I think it stems from his dad being Somalia's Secretary of State and meeting so many foreign dignitaries.  His dad attended John F. Kennedy's funeral and was received at the White House on several occasions. Oh, the stories that man could tell if he was still alive.  I was never able to meet Abdul's parents because they died before we met but they led very interesting lives, full of travel and fascinating people.

We try to take vacations which include some form of history when we travel through the US.  We enjoyed our trip to Hallowed Ground near Gettysburg a few years ago, which included battle sites and presidential homes. This past Sunday we were driving along I-80 in Iowa and had an opportunity to visit Herbert Hoover's Presidential library.  I know most people think they "know" about presidents based on the page of a text book you may have read in middle school, but to see artifacts and read about history based on a presidency is very different, and we find we learn so much about these great men (and maybe a woman one day soon). I highly encourage you to check them out.

We went to Simi Valley to see President Reagan's library once, and I remember the full size plane which was hangared in the museum- very impressive.  Hoover's had a WWI trench complete with views of the enemy combatants and noise from the bombs.  Omar, who is nine, loved this part so much that he spent nearly an hour in it.  The National Parks also maintain Herbert Hoover National Historic Site where you'll find the house from his childhood and several displays as well as outdoor buildings.  You can visit this for free and the grounds are right next to the presidential library. Be sure to see the film at the visitor center.

We learned there is a new passport program for the thirteen current libraries managed by the National Archives.  There are additional libraries not included in this list for much earlier presidents like Lincoln and Coolidge, but those are not managed by the National archives. If you buy a passport at one of the gift shops, you can get a stamp at each of the libraries/museums and at the end you can receive a crystal paperweight.  I don't really need this kind of incentive because the visits are truly their own reward, but it's a nice idea anyway. Maybe you want to see all of them?  You'll leave with a deeper understanding of the presidents and the problems they faced.

Hoover was fond of fishing and loved the outdoors

A realistic wartime trench
Hoover's first home

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