At California Ceremony, Bush Reaches for Reagan Mantle
The blue-and-white 707 flew seven American presidents more than one million miles over nearly three decades of tumult in the United States and the world. Jimmy Carter took it to Germany to greet the hostages from Iran the day after his administration ended, Richard M. Nixon flew it back home to California after resigning the presidency, and Ronald Reagan took it to Berlin when he told Mikhail S. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."
So on Friday morning, in a fog-shrouded ceremony dedicating the new Air Force One Pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library here, President Bush called the old Boeing 707, now suspended from the ceiling, "an important contribution to the history of America."
No one used that old Air Force One more than Mr. Reagan, Mr. Bush said, noting that the 40th president had flown it for "211 missions" and 630,000 miles.
"It was Ronald Reagan's dream to share Air Force One with the American people," Mr. Bush said. The plane, and the pavilion that houses it along with some other exhibits, will open to the public on Saturday.
The president's remarks veered into familiar territory concerning the war against terrorism. Comparing Mr. Reagan's struggle against the Soviet Union to his own against fundamentalism in the Middle East, he said, "Like the ideology of Communism, Islamic radicalism is doomed to failure."
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