Reagan Library focus of address by Executive Director Burson

November 29, 2002
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula Times Leading up to the Rotary Club of Santa Paula’s tour of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum, the executive director of the Simi Valley facility offered a history and look into the future for the county’s 10th such center.“The first thing I did after retiring this past January,” was signing on to become docent, said Past Rotary President Nils Rueckert. “After 24 years out of my Navy uniform, I am back in uniform again, and thoroughly enjoy working one day a week with a wonderful group of professionals over in Simi Valley.” About 175 docents volunteer at the center, which welcomes over 190,000 visitors annually, he added.Rueckert been excited at meeting people from all over the world, leading tours “through eight years of our country’s history and the displays about the incredible life our longest living president.”Mark Burson, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, organized in 1985 to head fundraising for the creation of the library/museum and also the operator of the Reagan Center for Public Affairs.Rueckert noted that Burson was aboard the last historic flight of Air Force One that served a number of presidents; the plane is finding a new home overlooking the Simi Valley at the library.The library was the scene of the historic reunion of five living presidents, who attended the dedication on Nov. 4, 1991, said Burson.
The Presidential Learning Center is to “instruct and inspire children to become leaders in the mold of Ronald Reagan,” and even provides the fee for the bus to enable all children to visit. Each year, the top 100 high school graduates, and awards three scholarships of $5,000 each.The center offers a variety of year-round activities, including the Presidential Walk, mock elections, and the Revolutionary War weekend, among others. Temporary and traveling exhibits regularly join the permanent displays, Burson noted, and the facility has the largest meeting center in Ventura County.Air Force One’s new home will sit nose out over the Simi Valley, offering all the experience of “this great symbol of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.” Burson said the new building will be 90,000 square feet spread out over three-levels, allowing for an F15 fighter jet to be suspended from the ceiling next to Air Force One.Planned to debut to the public on July 4, 2004, Air Force One will be disassembled and reassembled inside its new home. The plane, a Boeing 707, will be an addition to the center that will make it truly unique among the nation’s 10 presidential libraries, said Burson.

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