There are three presidential libraries in the great state of Texas. Luckily I’ve been a few times to the grand LBJ library in Austin, and on this last trip to Dallas I got to visit the recently opened George W. Bush Presidential Center near my old alma mater SMU. As we drove down lower Greenville to Mockingbird, my dad asked me if it felt at all nostalgic. Yes and no. Yes, when I see all the bars where we had liquid lunches after econ class, and no when I see all of the new construction around the campus itself. It’s hard to make any emotional connection when you no longer recognize the landscape. Plus we’re talking memories from another century. I wonder if this how some polar bears might feel after each hibernation season with global warming visibly nibbling away at the glaciers, but that’s another soapbox for another occasion!
Today I’m taking you through the enormous (second in size only to the Reagan library in California) George W. Bush Presidential Center, a beautiful brick and limestone building awarded with LEED certification.
After you step inside and pay for your ticket, you are greeted by a 67-foot high lantern over Freedom Hall, basking in sunlight. When you look up, you get to experience a 360-high def-LED media display that makes a heck of a welcome to new visitors. I can only imagine how this very hall might glow in the sunset hour:
Like with all presidential libraries, you are given a glimpse into the private life of the candidate then much more public life of the president. For 43, the heart of his presidency is defined by 9/11 and much of the very well crafted exhibit commemorates all the emotions the nation–and the world–went through that day…and since then.
No matter your political bearing, walking through this exhibit reminds you of the gravity of the presidency. It is a thankless job to be one of the most powerful people on the planet. For all the critical decisions you have to make on a daily basis, all you get are this…
and this for your museum…and a head full of grey hair.
And, oh, I guess a real seat at the actual Oval office where the phone and books are not nailed down to the desk:
My favorite part of the center is actually the Decision Points Theater, an interactive exhibit where you and other visitors can have a shot at some of that critical decision-making…
Would you take this job? Could you imagine going to work every day knowing that you could only get a small fraction of your job right? That your employer is the whole country? And that for all the wrong (or maybe right in hindsight) decisions you make you could affect thousands, millions of lives? If you asked me, I would still much rather be POTUS than a mega-Powerball lottery winner.
I couldn’t imagine a bigger honor.