By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Over the next two years, Ronald Reagan is going to gallop back into our lives as his posse prepares a string of events to celebrate his centennial birthday, Feb. 6, 2011, and take into account just what an American giant he has become since leaving office in 1989. And it's being done in a very Reaganesque way: at no cost to taxpayers but instead from donations.
Ronald Reagan: The Sequel will be a two-part feature. The first will celebrate his 100th birthday with several events worldwide guided by the 11-person Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission. The "Centennial Countdown" kicked off with the unveiling of the Gipper's statue inside the Capitol earlier this month and hits high gear in November, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That's when the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library will celebrate his biggest accomplishment: the role he played in toppling communism. They'll also recount his successful bid to expand the economy, including lessons that can be applied to today's economic troubles. It won't be cheap. Reagan Foundation Executive Director John Heubusch says, "We need a lot of help."
Part Two takes place in Simi Valley, Calif., home to the museum. Heubusch says $10 million is needed to renovate the facility to tell the expanding Reagan story, made Jolly Green Giant size in 2008 when GOP candidates fought over who played the best Reagan. "This is necessary because in the over 20 years since President Reagan left office, scholars, historians, and public-policy officials have now had a chance to reflect on the contributions he made to this world, and the praise has only grown," says Heubusch. The 18-year-old facility "needs to reflect what history is revealing."
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR
Read more Washington Whispers.