If it wasn't for the fact that we were in California, and my mom has a dream of getting a stamp in her presidential library passport from every presidential library, we would not have probably sought out more about the president that resigned. However, I truly loved getting to know more about our 37th president at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.
Richard Nixon grew up in a small home in Yorba Linda, California. Starting from humble beginnings, he worked hard, served in the Navy, and served as a congressman, senator, and Vice President under Eisenhower in his early years.
Even though he lost the election in 1960, when he ran for president against Kennedy, he never gave up. When he ran in 1968, he won, and then was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in 1972.
A Challenging Inheritance
When Richard Nixon came into office, he arrived in the midst of great turmoil in the country. The Vietnam War was at the heart of the unrest, and Nixon promised to put an end to the war and get our soldiers home.
While it was easy to say, Nixon was very careful in how he worked to end the war. He didn't want to just pull out troops out because he feared that another conflict would pop up in its place. Then the younger brothers of the veterans would be figinting a new battle.
Nixon strategically navigated the conditions surrounding the conflict and successfully brought US troops home. It took nearly his entire term in office.
One of his most clever moves was to smooth over relations with China. With his wife Pat at his side, Nixon made an epic tour of communist China in order to weaken the confidence of communist North Vietnam. It was diplomacy at its finest.
Slippery Slope Into Sin
One thing that fascinated me was learning that Nixon was not the first president to utilize recording devices in the White House. Actually, President Johnson was known for having a great collection of recordings of important conversations. Nixon didn't like the idea, so he had all of the recording devices removed from the White House.
However, Nixon soon found out that conversations were not as free when there was a note taker in the room. When he decided to reinstate the recording devices, he did so in secret. Not only did he record important conversations, he recorded everything.
The Watergate scandal was tragic because it seemed so unnecessary. Nixon had the esteem of the population. He didn't need to manipulate anything to stay in office.
My son and I read all about Chuck Coloson's involvement in these tumultuous times in Challenge I through his autobiography Born Again.
Back to the Beginning
A unique feature of the Nixon Presidential Library is that you can also tour Nixon's birth home. The library actually sits on the land where his parents built their first home.
They worked hard to make a living with a citrus orchard, but after years of meager harvests, the family moved from Yorba Linda to Whittier and opened a filling station. That endeavor proved to be very successful.
Their first home became the caretaker's home for the school that was built on the property after they moved. It is incredible that it still stands in its original location after all of these years!
You can go in and see the small one bedroom home that held a family of seven.
Both of my cousin's that grew up in California had attended formal events at the Nixon Presidential Library. The grounds are incredibly beautiful.
I was so moved by the theme that reverberated throughout the museum: failure is not defeat.
There were so many remarkable achievements Nixon accomplished in his life. This museum taught me so much about the nature of man and the struggles that come with the power of presidency. It was well worth the tour.
My favorite part was sitting in the Lincoln room and watching Nixon write down his thoughts in regards to some of the most difficult circumstances he faced while president.
All of the presidential libraries I've visited so far have been incredible historical and educational wonders. If you get a chance, stop by and peek into the world of one of your presidents. It is well worth the time.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.