WASHINGTON, April 25 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama on Thursday joined the four living former presidents and leaders from around the world at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas.
The dedication ceremony was the first time that the elite club of former and incumbent US presidents have gotten together since they met at the White House in January 2009, just prior to Obama’s first inauguration.
Displays at the 226,000-square-foot (20,996-square-meter) facility showcase the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, as seen through the former president’s eyes. Among the artifacts on display is the megaphone Bush used to speak to rescue workers at the site of the World Trade Center, three days after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life,” Obama said in a speech at the dedication ceremony, where he was flanked by the former presidents: George W. Bush, his father George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
“When our nation came under attack we made the tough decisions required to keep the American people safe,” George W. Bush said.
“My deepest conviction – the guiding principle of the administration – is that the United States of America must strive to expand the reach of freedom,” Bush said. Freedom, he added, “sustains dissidents bound by chains, believers huddled in underground churches and voters who risk their lives to cast their ballot.”
Relatives of former presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan also attended the ceremony, where Obama praised Bush’s compassion in “leading the global fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria” and his “commitment to reaching across the aisle to unlikely allies like Ted Kennedy, because he believed that we had to reform our schools… to repair a broken immigration system; and that this progress is only possible when we do it together.”
Former first lady Laura Bush called her husband “a man who, when someone needs a hand, offers them their arms.”
The $250 million library and museum bearing the former president’s name sits on 23 acres (9.3 hectares) at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
The library and museum will be run by the National Archives while the public policy institute that is part of the facility will remain under the Bush family’s control and be used to promote the former president’s hallmark causes, including global health.
The library bearing Bush’s name is the 13th presidential library and museum in the United States.