Thursday, November 21, 2013

Richard M. Nixon Museum

We continued on our quest to see all the Presidential Museums and Library's by taking a day trip over to Yorba Linda, CA a few weeks ago.
Our visit there finished up our stops for the Presidential Museums in California.

As we approached the Nixon Museum, I my mind riveted back to two images of him over the years:

  • The "I am not a crook" words he uttered during Watergate, and
  • The photo of utter and complete grief of him during the funeral of Pat Nixon.
I always wonder if the place we visit will be anything like my expectations or what I image it will be like...

We arrived late morning and my first thoughts were that it was in a mostly residential neighborhood where it was located.  I don't recall ever being in Yorba Linda, but it was a quite different than the Reagan Library site.  The Reagan Library is off the freeway up on the top of a mountain in Simi Valley.

The Nixon Library was easy to find and we started our exploring.
I like the open feeling of the buildings and grounds.  It wasn't particularly large, but we both thought it was very well done.
I really liked the replica of the East Room of the White House.  
The early years were a look into a family that did better during the depression years than many folks.
His father built the house he was born in and had a grocery store in Yorba Linda.
He was able to go to nearby Whittier College in 1934 and graduated from Duke Law School before returning to California to practice law.
He and Pat Nixon married in 1938.  They moved to Washington DC in 1942 and worked in the Price Administration before joining the Navy.  He was anxious, " get into the action" but never saw action.  He was assigned to administrative posts during the war and resigned his commission after it was over.

He was recruited to run for Congress and was successful in 1946.  He served on various committees, gaining a name for himself on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigating Alger Hiss spy case.

In 1950 he was elected to the Senate and became Eisenhower's running mate in 1952, serving eight years as Vice President.
Then he ran for president again John F. Kennedy.  Though he lost, he was part of the history making event known as the televised Presidential Debates.  After the assassination of JFK, Lyndon Johnson became a one-term president as the unpopular Viet Nam War took its toll.

In 1969, Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey and third-party candidate George Wallace and became our 37th president.
Some of his legacy apart from Watergate included:
  • Opening China, becoming the first president to visit there
  • Ending the Viet Nam War directing negotiations by Henry Kissinger in Paris
  • SALT I talks and the Anti-Ballistic Missile agreement with Brezhnev and the Soviet Union
  • Restarting the stalled Middle-East peace talks
We left the library with a renewed sense that history and justice does prevail in our country.  And the flaws of our presidents will come to light in the larger context of their life and service.

Appropriately, this museum gave extensive space to Watergate coverup and trial.
It did not avoid it or ignore it which culminated in his resignation in 1974 - becoming the first and only President in U.S. history to do so.

The museum also gave a broader background and foundation to the full life of Richard M. Nixon.  Especially after he resigned.  He wrote nine books and took a number of diplomatic trips overseas.  In 1977, he granted a series of 90 minute interviews with David Frost which began re-entry into public life.
In 1986, he was on the cover of Time magazine.
His wife Pat died in 1993 and he died in 1994.
We were glad to see the museum and thought it was among the best we have seen.  So far I think the Ronald Reagan museum is our favorite, maybe followed by this one.  It was a couple of hours we are glad we spent there.

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...


  1. Thanks for taking us back to our visit there of some 15 to 20 years ago.

  2. Of course I think his greatest accomplishment was pulling my unit out of Viet Nam... US NMCB11.. After that, I didn't care if he lied cheated or stole... he could do no wrong in my eyes.... LOL

  3. Many politicians try to leave their "mark" in history ,not all succeed to leave a good one....

  4. An interesting, complex and tragic figure - that's my lasting impression of Richard Nixon.

    Great tour, Randy, thanks. I'll be close to that museum this winter so I just might take a drive over and have a look for myself.