Monday, December 26, 2011

A Holiday Party With Reagan - Adventures in Bako

Airforce 1
It sounds strange, and indeed, it was. For our holiday party, my work sent us to the Reagan Presidential Library.

My work has this cool tradition. Their holiday parties are a surprise. So you RSVP, knowing only the date and the type of clothing required for the event. Then when it gets closer to the date of the party, you find out when you'll get picked up by the buses, and when you'll return. That's all. The bus driver doesn't even know where he's going until he gets a phone call from someone in the corporate office telling him the last leg of the trip.

And they've gone to some really cool places - done some really interesting things - Universal Studios for example. Except this year they took us to Reagan's library.

Nancy's Dresses
Now, one thing you have to know about me is that my grandmother (bless her heart!) might have disowned me if I ever became a registered Republican. And I never have been registered as such. Right now, I'm not even registered with the Democratic party because they have been less than spineless when it came to many issues recently. That said, I spent my time in college and graduate school studying international politics, social movements, history, and sociology. I made it my business to study war and peace and non-violent social movements. I'm a firm believer in the government stepping in and supporting its citizens in certain areas, including education and healthcare. Needless to say, the Republican party and I have not gotten along during my lifetime.

I also do not worship people. People are just people, doing ordinary things. Sometimes luck and fate smile on a person, but there is no reason to admire that person so much more than another. It's the major reason I have never been ga-ga over celebrities, including politicians.

So learning about Reagan at the library was interesting, but it was also annoying.

Section of the Berlin Wall
Presidents get credit for both good and bad events occurring during their time in office. This happens even when the majority of said events have little, if anything to do with the president's actions. So the Berlin wall, the whole crash of the Iron curtain - I don't think that had anything to do with Regan, not really. He was in office at the right time. Lucky for him.

There are of course other things, which the president has direct influence over. I think particularly of that wacky idea perpetuated by fear and ridiculous prejudice - yes, the Pinko Commie threat. Having visited Nicaragua, a place that was war torn, in major part because of the interference of Regan's government during the 80s, I have a bitter taste in my mouth for Regan. Many horrible things that happened in Nicaragua could have been avoided if Reagan's government hadn't gone in and manipulated the situation there. "Peace through Strength" is a ridiculous concept - one that really doesn't work. But then again, I have never liked armies, or the aftermath they always leave behind them.

Besides these questions which were raised by the exhibits in the museum at the library, I was irritated by the "funeral room." There were actually people walking through this portion of the museum and crying. Now, I understand Reagan was a man who did impact the world significantly for 8 years. I get that. But I doubt most of these mourners were friends and confidantes of the man. To me, Reagan was not lamentable as I did not know him. Of course it is sad when anyone dies, because they had family and friends who will miss them. But this person was so far removed from the average American, it seems strange that anyone would feel the need to actually cry in reaction to his death. It's not like, for example, a holocaust or genocide exhibit, where you might be moved at the systematic destruction of a people with unique culture and society. A single man's death is sad, but it is not cause for sobbing when you didn't really know him. This seems especially true if he was president before you were aware of the distinction of the executive and judicial branches of government.

A metal beam...
This would have been enough for me to wonder at the whole strange experience, but there was one other thing that made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Somehow a beam from one of the World Trade Center towers was on display in the Reagan Presidential Library. Yes, a rusted beam.

You might be asking yourself, "What the hell does that have to do with President Reagan?"

The answer is, nothing. Absolutely nothing. I have no clue why that rusted beam was being exhibited in a museum tribute to Reagan. We were told it would eventually be shipped off to a navy ship. I guess it was meant as a symbol to spur men and women in the armed forced to fight for freedom, or some other abstract concept which might be made more concrete by a metal support beam.

Yes, this was probably the last place I would choose to go with anyone from my work, possibly anyone I know socially ever. I did learn some things about Regan, and about his legacy. The museum confirmed what I knew - that he was just a man. He might have been a man who reinvigorated the Republican party and led one of the major superpowers of the time, but he was still just a man.

The question now is, will I go to the holiday party next year, hoping they go somewhere that I would appreciate a little more? Probably I will. Even though I became irritated by some of exhibits and fellow attendees, it was an experience I wouldn't have otherwise had. Besides, I can still hope for Magic Mountain.

No comments:

Post a Comment