My Experience at The Richard Nixon Museum
Experience can change a person’s perspective. Usually one believes what one hears about from other people instead of doing one’s own research. In my history classes from high school to college most teachers focus on President Nixon’s downfall in Watergate instead of teaching his achievements as president and how he came to be the President after being born poor. After hearing my teacher’s lecture about him I started to think Nixon was a bad president with no achievements. In the lectures I heard about Nixon’s Watergate scandal and the secret bombings on the North Vietnamese base during the Vietnam War which made Nixon look bad. I used to think people were rich before becoming president. I was surprised about how Nixon worked to promote peace. The Richard Nixon Presidential Museum made me change my opinion about Nixon.
My mom and I arrived at Richard Nixon’s Museum in Yorba Linda, California, around 11:00 am. The building outside was beautiful and had a huge backyard where his birthplace, his gravesite with his wife, and his helicopter that Johnson, Kennedy, and Ford also used until it was retired. I did not expect to have a museum change my perspective.
Before going into the exhibit we saw a 30-minute video which was a review of Nixon’s life and his accomplishments. The video had uplifting music and made me focus and pay attention. The video moved me because Nixon had a hard life and was poor before he ran for Congress. I started to understand what it was like living in a poor home, having to work at a minimum wage job to support himself for school and for housing, and not having the money for college. Nixon had a brother named Harold who died because of tuberculosis. Nixon worked at the Nixon Grocery store, which was run by his family. Nixon went to Whittier College in order to major in history and government.
As I walked in the museum they had statues honoring the world’s greatest leaders in the world chosen by Nixon himself. I asked myself why Nixon wanted to honor these particular world leaders and what did they do to influence him? The world leaders that Nixon picked included Anwar Sadat, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle. Anwar Sadat worked to have peace with Israel. Winston Churchill promoted democracy and fair elections. My mom asked the staff a question ,“Why did Nixon pick certain leaders as the world’s greatest leaders?” The staff said, “The reason Nixon picked them was because they worked hard to make a difference in the world and they all promoted peace.” I was surprised that a former president would go out of his way to honor some of the world’s leaders. My opinion started to gradually change.
His presidential exhibit was fascinating in the many things that Nixon promised to do when he ran for president in the 1968 election. He promised to end the war in Vietnam and improve the environment with legislation. After a few months Nixon withdrew troops from Vietnam. His achievements were ending the war in Vietnam, opening relations with China, creating the EPA, helping minorities get jobs, creating the Clean Water Act, and starting The War on Cancer, including federal spending to help people research to cure cancer. In the exhibits I started to realize how much these achievements made a difference in people’s lives and how it helped improve the future. I started to feel more confident that Nixon was a good president who worked hard to achieve many goals.
We walked outside and saw Nixon’s birthplace which was where Nixon lived during his childhood. His birthplace was actually on the museum site before the museum was built. As my mom and I walked inside the house we could see the poor furnishings. The house was small for a 7 person family. His father built the house. His birthplace made me realize how hard Nixon’s childhood was being poor. The positive thought I had was that Nixon was able to overcome being poor, and he got a good education and had many achievements.
On the outside of the museum there were the gravesites of Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon. Their gravesite had very good quotes. The quotes were very moving to me. Nixon’s quote was “The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of a peacemaker.” This quote made me realize that making peace with a country is a big achievement. I decided to take a moment of silence and show some respect. I started feeling sad that they died, but I learned how much they had made a difference in the world.
After going through the exhibit we stopped at the gift shop. The exhibits changed my perspective and I started to like Nixon. There was a picture of Elvis with Nixon, a picture of Pat and Richard Nixon, and a book filled with pictures of him and his presidency. After a few minutes I decided to get a book about Nixon and his presidency. The reason I picked it was because I was amazed and inspired by his work on making a difference.
In conclusion perspective can be changed when you experience something. I also learned that it is better to research issues or study topics before you follow someone else’s statements. The Richard Nixon Museum changed my thoughts on Nixon in a positive way. Even though Nixon’s biggest falldown was Watergate he did some good things as president by improving everyday lives and achieving peace. Sometimes it is surprising to find out about a leader’s accomplishments that don’t fit in with one’s original view of the leader.
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