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By Ellen Bell

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Nixon Centennial Celebration: Yorba Linda

I love history. I’m quite obsessed actually.

My father was a history teacher and instilled in me a passion for the past  through long family vacations and lively dinner conversations.

I grew up believing that the only way to truly understand the world we live in is to learn about how we got here.

So it’s surprising that it has taken me so long to make the journey to Yorba Linda to visit the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. The reason for my trip? President Nixon’s birthday is on January 9th.

He would have been 100 years old.

Richard Nixon was the president of my childhood; the first Commander in Chief that I can remember seeing in black and white on the TV in our living room.


To a child of the 1970’s, Richard Nixon represented a confusing mix of images: The strong father figure, The stern and stoic diplomat, and finally, The broken, fallen hero. It was a tumultuous time. In between episodes of The Brady Bunch and Love American Style, we saw Vietnam footage and Watergate trials.


My generation experienced the first wave of reality media seeping into our own homes and Richard Nixon was at the center of it all.

Walking  through the exhibit galleries at the Nixon Library is like taking a trip back in time, to sounds and images that I didn’t quite understand as a child.

The museum pulls no punches; it represents the downfall of Nixon’s career as honestly as his achievements. 40 years later, I was able to revisit history with a new perspective and gain a well-rounded glimpse into the Nixon Era; the proud achievements as well as the lessons to be learned.

Outside the Library, away from the  controvertial history of  Nixon’s presidency, is the little ranch house that his father built in 1912. It was in this  small white house that Richard Nixon was born 100 years ago. Today he is buried a mere 60 feet away. It is this “full-circle” journey of Richard Nixon that I find the most compelling; the story of Nixon the man, who rose from the humblest of beginnings on a southern California citrus ranch to the highest office in the world.


On Sunday, January 6th, The Library will kick off the Nixon Centennial Celebration at 11am. Tricia Nixon Cox, the President’s eldest daughter, will lay a ceremonial wreath to start the proceedings. This will begin a year-long remembrance of the 37th President, including a new exhibit: “RN; Patriot. President. Peacemaker,” that will open on February 13.









The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace

18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard

Yorba Linda, CA 92886

(714) 993-3393





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