The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace opened its doors 21 years ago, to 50,000 friends and well wishers. Four Presidents and First Ladies were on hand for the dedication, held outdoors in the California summer to welcome Orange County’s most famous son back home.
President Nixon – joined by Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush – was on hand for the festivities. Mrs. Nixon joined him in her most public appearance since leaving the White House in 1974, to the adoration of the crowd. The Republican Mount Rushmore of Presidents introduced one another and each delivered remarks.
President Bush said to RN, “Mr. President, you worked with every fiber of your being to help achieve ‘a generation of peace.’ Today, as the movement toward democracy sweeps our globe, you can take great pride that history will say of you: ‘Here was a true architect of peace.’”
Others at the ceremony included a who’s-who of America’s most well known political and cultural forces: Billy Graham delivered the invocation while Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Tricia Nixon Cox took their seats in the front row; Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and other cabinet ministers were on hand as were Ambassador Walter Annenberg and legendary comedian Bob Hope.
Speaking for Mrs. Nixon and himself, RN said, “Nothing we have ever seen matches this moment – to be welcomed home so warmly on this day.”
Since its dedication in 1990, the Richard Nixon Library has attracted over 3.3 million visitors, ranking it among the most visited attractions in Southern California. It boasts the most active public programming of any presidential library in the nation, having hosted over 350 speakers. The original museum was doubled in size in 2004 with the opening of the Annenberg Entrance Court and Loker Center, containing an exact replica of the White House East Room. The addition provided generous space for dinner galas, lectures, school programs, conferences, social events and corporate meetings, only reinforcing that the Nixon Library is Southern California’s premier special event venue.
“The Nixon Library and Birthplace has experienced an extraordinary twenty years of attendance and popular public programming, and we’ve operated in the black,” said Ronald H. Walker, Foundation Chairman and the man who President Nixon put in charge of the grand opening ceremonies for the library bearing his name, 21 years ago.