Walking along the Arkansas River one is reminded of how every river town in America, heck every town situated by some water in America, is or has tried to exploit that resource as a means of revitalizing a city. This includes Minneapolis, Boston, Milwaukee and Little Rock. The difference for Little Rock is that a certain former US president chose to erect his presidential library/museum along an abandoned stretch of riverfront. This edifice proved to be the catalyst for removing many old, abandoned and decrepit industrial buildings and for removing tons of polluted soil. Today one can experience wonderful park land, bike and walking paths that includes the repurposing of an old railroad trestle.
The Clinton Library and Museum was built with $164 million in private donations (including my own modest contribution). The building was completed using recycled materials; the most up-to-date technology for power generation and conservation; and it includes a penthouse apartment for the Clinton family to use whenever they are in town.
This is my seventh visit to a presidential and museum. This particular site is rather unique because it is the only one to contain an exact replica of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room. One could not resist occupying sitting the commander-in-chief’s chair.
In addition to the normal displays about the successes, challenges and activities that engrossed the Clinton years in office (typical for each presidential library and museum) there were some delightful displays of gifts from citizens and leaders from around the world.
As we all know there a several living former presidents and most are actively engaged in some charitable work. The Clinton Foundation is also officed in this building. The foundation promotes and supports economic self-sufficiency, global health and wellness.
So one may ask why it is important to visit any presidential library and museum. Besides getting the opportunity to re-live history for a few hours one also needs to understand the complexity of our government and how our chief executive is often the embodiment of our dreams and aspirations: or the target of our vitriol.
I believe that our political leaders, no matter their political persuasion, generally want to do what is right for the country. After-all who in their right mind would want to endure the chaos and noise that accompanies leadership unless they really believed that they could move the country forward. The interesting thing about Clinton is that no matter what happened during his time in office he never lost his love for people; which I believe is generally reciprocated.
Bravo to Little Rock for taking advantage of this opportunity to revitalize its city. Thank President Clinton–the 1990’s really were a crazy time!