Parking was $7, and entrance to the museum is $16 for one adult. A large portion of the museum seemed to be dedicated to the "war on terror" and of course the tragedy on 09/11. The focus was on the events and little of the president's actions seemed to come across. While the events and the aftermath were a large part of his presidency I would have liked more detail on his specific actions since it was a presidential museum and not a war memorial.
|Steel from the World Trade Center|
President Bush’s words from his national address given from the Oval Office that evening: “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
A reminder about "No Child Left Behind" wasn't something either of us were particularly fond of considering how it has transformed the classroom into a standardized testing factory in an effort to hold schools to certain performance standards. Ugh. For example, the grade school Katrina attended in 3rd grade taught them the test for a month for almost the whole day, neglecting any learning that might have actually been enriching. When time came for the test their teacher walked around the room and "helped" them with tough questions. Another teacher told me that at the end of the day that same helpful teacher was locked in her classroom with all the test booklets for hours. Katrina was a nervous wreck for those weeks, and had nightmares on how she would perform due to the pressure that was put on them to do well. We left public school for homeschooling not long afterward, and thankfully Wisconsin was a state that did not require standardized testing for homeschooled students. Katrina now has a Master's Degree so I think she did okay getting into college and pursuing her education, all without standardized testing until she took the ACT.
Katrina took Sociology of Education at UW Eau Claire where she learned that while the legislation was well intentioned it has fallen short of what it set out to do. Here's a bit of good news, in December 2015 Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act to replace NCLB. ESSA moved in the opposite direction—it seeks to pare back the federal role in K-12 education and will go in effect for the 2017-2018 school year. Education is one area I think we have a long way to go as a nation, Katrina tells me that a study that polled high school exchange students revealed that they have less homework and more vigorous material during the day which was an observation I made when we were homeschooling that much time seems wasted during the day only to send busy work home and take time away from family and much needed leisure time for children.
Whew! I didn't mean to go on at such length! Another exhibit talked about Hurricane Katrina, which was not a high point of the Bush administration. From Wikipedia: Within days of Katrina's August 29, 2005 landfall, public debate arose about the local, state and federal governments' role in the preparations for and response to the storm. Criticism was prompted largely by televised images of visibly shaken and frustrated political leaders, and of residents who remained in New Orleans without water, food or shelter, and the deaths of several citizens by thirst, exhaustion, and violence days after the storm itself had passed. The treatment of people who had evacuated to registered facilities such as the Superdome was also criticized. Worse, apparently Bush did not mention hurricane recovery or administration involvement/shortcomings in his 2006 or 2007 State of the Union addresses. Want to know more about how New Orleans is faring a decade after the storm, read about it in this New York Times piece.
We did enjoy the Oval Office replica and a nice employee took our picture sitting in front of the fireplace. At the Clinton museum you were not allowed to bring your own camera into the room at all, but we did shell out the money for the behind the desk shot when we visited that one. A nearby exhibit dealt with the family and the pets, which we have seen at each museum, and an interactive exhibit called Decision Points Theater gives the opportunity to express how YOU would act in response to major crises which we skipped. Again, I would have liked to see more detail about Bush's actions like the bills and executive orders he signed but little was displayed in that regard.
One of the themes that keeps coming up at every presidential museum is their efforts on behalf of immigration. This is a topic that touches me deeply and I plan a separate post on the history of immigration legislation. We've also been keenly aware of how no matter which president or how many years it has been, certain "problems" seem to recur in our government and our society. Do we learn from history? I hope so.
|View of Dealey Plaza not far from spot where Zapruder film was shot|
Our other presidential related stop while in Dallas was at the Sixth Floor Museum across from Dealey Plaza. Again, we paid for parking and $16 each to get in to the museum. If you need more in depth information about the dark events in Dallas in 1963 this could be a worthwhile stop. It was interesting seeing where the famed assassination took place and getting a feel for the space, imagining the streets filled with 250,000 citizens who came out to see their president.
|The former School Book Depository building,|
now the Sixth Floor Museum
The museum is a self-guided audio tour of billboard type displays and a look at the area where Oswald was allegedly situated when he shot JFK. For us none of the information was new and the audio tour was annoying and turned off within minutes while we wandered around scanning the boards. The only items of interest for us were as I said the view out the window and also a miniaturized model of the plaza and where the automobiles were placed at the time of the shooting. For me it seemed to raise more questions than it answered as it seemed the window in question was an unlikely spot considering he would have had a much better shot while the cars were coming toward him than after they had turned the corner and were moving away. But who knows what happened? Maybe he had a malfunction with his gun and was delayed in his shot?
The only pieces of information relating to the investigation that were new to me was that President Kennedy had 400 death threats in the 9 months prior to his trip to Dallas and new information regarding the sound tests performed on the Dictabelt recording from a police officer's motorcycle that was part of the motorcade. For those results follow this link.
We walked around downtown Dallas while waiting our turn to get into the museum, noting many references to Pegasus. Apparently it was the symbol of Magnolia Oil which was later folded into Mobil Oil and has a long history in Dallas.
|Unique Christmas tree in Pegasus Plaza|
We are missing those warm Texas days already, tomorrow we will be home, and tonight we are hiding in our hotel from the -1F wind chill here in Indiana!