We love history. It is so great to travel with someone who has such similar interests. I mean I know Bill puts up with me when I “drag” him to Disney but at least we have some things in common. HA!
We have visited Presidential Libraries, Forts from every war, you name it we have learned about it. This year has truly been the year of Presidential Libraries. We went to Truman last spring and I got a passport with all the sites listed. I wish now we had done this two years ago as we passed several we won’t get back to anytime soon. We saw Carter’s in Atlanta, Clinton’s in Arkansas, LBJ’s in Austin, Bush Senior in College Station, TX, Bush Jr’s in Dallas and Eisenhower’s in Kansas.
While we learn about the President’s we also learn some about the first ladies and I have to tell you my favorite first lady by far and away is Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson. This woman changed the world we live in. If you drive down the highway and see the green space and wildflowers that is because of her. These wildflower patches along the highway are some of my greatest joys when we are driving from place to place. Driving hours on end can be boring but it is less so when I look up and see acres of wildflowers that separate lanes and surround the highways.
Lady Bird Johnson loved traveling across the country and seeing all the different things that grow in different areas. She realized that if something weren’t done the country would become homogenized. Everything would begin to look the same. She set forth to encourage the use of locally grown flowers and setting aside open space for parks. In Austin there is a Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We stopped in one afternoon and wandered through the flowers. It is a great place to visit and I highly recommend it. They are working hard to save species of wildflowers that are near extinction due to fields becoming paved.
History is often sad. Two years ago we toured so many Forts and battlegrounds that I became depressed. I have had a hard time visiting places where so many people died. When we were in Memphis we stopped at the Civil Rights Museum across from the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed and the area is full of sorrow. I was not looking forward to visiting the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas but was willing to go for the historical experience. We arrived downtown and parked in the lot behind the building. We walked up the sideway across the street from the Grassy Knoll. We went into the building and got our tickets and went up to the Sixth Floor. The exhibits are actually great. It is not just about what happened in Dallas it is actually quite a bit like a Presidential Library. The exhibit starts with his family and talks about his election. It goes on to talk about his presidency and then of course they do talk about his death.
The exhibit is very well done and talks about the Warren Commission and their findings and all the other groups that have tested the theories. It leaves in very open ended for people to resolve their own feelings and opinions as an individual and doesn’t force any one opinion. The museum is filled more with an intellectual feel.
Another piece of history we explored on Memorial Day. We hadn’t actually planned it that was but it worked out quite beautifully. We arrived in Kansas and the best day to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum was Memorial Day.
We got to the museum and home in the early afternoon and paid for the tour of the house. It is a small house and the guide was animated and very informative.
The Museum has a new exhibit being installed and only part of it was open. We walked through the open portion and then into the portion on his life. His museum was quite a bit different then many of the others we had been to. There was a short section on his early life and then a larger section on his wife and first lady, Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower. Now I am far too young to remember this time period so I only knew her name prior to going into the library. She was a very interesting lady. She loved pink and the outfits she wore were lovely. I don’t know if in the 50s the first ladies had their own stylists but she was always stunningly dressed. There was a video with interviews with her and Barbara Walters (so very young) and it was a very neat section. It then went on to discuss WWII and Eisenhower’s part in ending the war.
Of all the libraries this was more about his life prior to being president, which disappointed me some. One of our favorite things to see at the libraries is the Oval Office replica and this one did not have one. It had a replica of his office from the house in Gettysburg but we had already seen that when we toured there. Overall really it did not give you much of a sense of who he was as the president.
The overall experience was disappointing but the site is beautiful and the childhood home was fun to see. I did hear many people complain that it was located so far away from everything. I guess Abilene, Kansas is not located well enough for most.