Countdown to the Centennial
With the approaching 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birthday on February 6, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, California, is gearing up for a full weekend of activities celebrating the legacy of our 40th President.
The weekend will kick off with a Concert for America: A Tribute to Ronald Reagan at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 5. Combining live musical acts with video tributes to Reagan’s life and Presidency, the concert will feature The Beach Boys, Lonestar, Lee Greenwood, and Roger Williams with video tributes from both former Presidents George Bush and George W. Bush as well as from Edwin Meese, Attorney General during the Reagan administration.
On Sunday, February 6, the Centennial weekend festivities will continue with a morning military tribute to the 40th President. Five F-18 Hornets will take off from the flight deck of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and fly over the official wreath-laying ceremony at the Presidential Library, followed by a 21-gun howitzer salute. James Baker, III, former Reagan Chief of Staff and Secretary of State under President George Bush, will be the keynote speaker. The official ribbon cutting for the renovation of the Reagan Library Museum will follow the ceremony. “The birthday events are meant to be a celebration of his life,” says Melissa Giller, Director of Communications and Programs for The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. “Ronald Reagan inspired freedom and changed the world.”
On Monday, the Presidential Library and Museum will be open to the public with free birthday cake, birthday albums for visitors to sign, and the first public access to the museum following its $15 million renovation. Newt and Callista Gingrich will also be on hand signing copies of Ronald Reagan: A Rendezvous with Destiny, based on the award-winning documentary of the same title. Monday evening, guests can enjoy a birthday dinner with live band with purchase of advance tickets at www.reaganfoundation.org.
Among the many dignitaries who will be attending the Centennial weekend in Simi Valley are former Secretary of State George Shultz, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Larry King, two of the Secret Service agents who protected Reagan during the assassination attempt in 1981, and ambassadors from several Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Serbia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
Giller says the Foundation has been planning the Centennial celebration for two years and credits GE’s generous sponsorship with making it possible. GE presented a $15 million gift to the foundation to go toward museum renovations, advertising and marketing for the Centennial, and to support 20 annual GE-Reagan Foundation college scholarships for American high school students. Among the dignitaries who will be speaking at the weekend birthday celebration are GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who Giller says will address “what it means to have had Ronald Reagan as an employee of GE.”
While the festivities of February 5 and 6 are private, full coverage of the Centennial weekend will be available to the public via live podcast at www.reaganfoundation.org.