Awhile back my husband and I visited the Lydon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, TX. After that one visit we were hooked and since then have decided to visit all the Presidential Libraries (don’t worry – there’s only 14). Even though we travel to the DFW area all the time and are always looking for things to do in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area, we have only recently made it to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the SMU campus.
(Now I know that you might have found this post while searching for information on the Bush 43 Library… but some of you are just normal readers tired of the political climate and not wanting to touch it in anyway…. If that’s you… keep reading because this is about more than just a political stance or feeling.)
I’m going to get an email from my dad about my poor grammar in that paragraph which is fitting since we’re talking about a President who made it his mission to mess with the dad he so fiercely loves.
First let me start by explaining that I’m that person that cries at commercials. It doesn’t even have to be a sad commercial for me to tear up. I’m emotional.
This Library wasn’t the happy-go-lucky type of library that we experienced with the George H. Bush Presidential Library nor did it have the overall feeling of positive change of the LBJ library. But there’s a reason for that.
As you arrive at the Library, you enter into a huge room that’s lined with glass enclosed cases that hold some of the amazing gifts that the Bush administration received from around the world during their time in office. It is worth your time to look at every single case. Some of the gifts you will never find anything else like it. It was actually one of our favorite parts of the Library.
The room is beautiful and for a minute made us feel like we were visiting Hogwarts as part of the ceiling came alive with dancing figures.
Once you enter the exhibit part of the Library, you immediately learn about George Bush, his family and his faith. It was touching to this was a section that he had laid out because it was that important to him.
The first part of the library was my favorite section, and honestly one that I wish they would have put at the end. After you learn a little about their family you enter a large section devoted to things that George and Laura Bush were truly passionate about. Baseball for him, reading for her and combined a push towards education and a devotion to faith.
If that section would have been saved for last I think my husband and I would have walked out of there declaring it to be one of our favorite Presidential Libraries. However, remember that I’m an emotional person. After finishing the section showing what they are above a beyond passionate about, you walk into a section devoted to 9/11.
I knew it would be there but I wasn’t ready for it.
There’s nothing bad, nothing that would be too much for a child to see. H
A section of twisted steel from the Twin Towers juts up to the ceiling before leading you to a darker area where you can read condolences and messages of hope from around the world. It’s hopeful but I needed to get past there and move on to the next section, which unbeknownst to me led to terrorism. It’s just heavy for a few minutes. Part of me thinks that without the heaviness and heartbreaking reminders, we wouldn’t be able to see how far this world has come since those days. Yes, terrorism still exists but seeing the articles and artifacts that shows you proof that we’re doing the right thing is eye opening.
If the only political thing in this post is this then let it be good: Right now there’s a war here in America with two sides yelling at each other. It’s tense and hard and many of us question ourselves daily. Yet looking at pictures of women in the Middle East getting the right to vote for the first time in the early 2000’s, reminds me that we have come so far. We can yell at each other all we want but if we don’t keep fighting for this world, it won’t matter. They deserve what we have, even if it’s just the right to yell at each other without fear of persecution.
All of the sudden the heaviness ends and you walk into a light and bright section about life in the White House. There’s a full-size Oval Office Replica, which is worth the trip alone. It’s so neat to walk around and see everything that was hanging on the walls and on the bookshelves while George Bush was President. You can sit on the couches or hang out behind the desk. It’s open to you to explore.
One of the best part of this Library, along with the others that we have visited, is that there are workers stationed in every area that can answer any questions and tell you so much that your head will explode. An amazing guide talked to us about every little detail in the Oval Office and we learned so much.
Finally after we finished learning about the First Pets (I love dogs so much) and watching a funny video about the humor of George W. Bush we moved to the last section which was more about the policies of his administration.
We read a few things but then a section about Hurricane Katrina caught my eye and I was ready to go. The one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey hitting our town and demolishing most of it is less than 3 weeks away, I just didn’t want to see anymore about it.
We quickly skirted past the few remaining things and headed toward the exit.
It was still a great Library and Museum and if you’re thinking of going, I would urge you to do so. If there’s a Presidential Library near you, go!
I love visiting Presidential Libraries because it doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not. It doesn’t matter if your political ideologies are cheerleaders for that administration or in direct opposition, you learn so much about the country and hopefully you come to a point where you can understand part of their choices and actions. You don’t have to agree with it but seeing other people through their eyes help you have empathy and compassion towards everyone, that’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
If you want to find out more about our visit to other Presidential Libraries, check out:
- Visiting the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, TX
- Visiting the George H. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, TX.
And in case you’re wondering, our favorite library so far has been the George H. Bush Library in College Station. You leave that Library feeling like you know George H. Bush and his late wife, Barbara, as personal friends. We were told that they often stopped in at the Library unannounced to visit with people and every single staff member raved about them. I hope to visit again soon to pay my respects to Barbara Bush, who is buried there.