Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
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Posts tagged "Hawaii"
Goodbye Daniel, Ihardlynouye!
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I was definitely bummed to hear that Senator Inouye passed away on Monday.  I had actually been reading quite a bit about Inouye recently, and his death came just a few days after I had mentioned him in a post after the Senate’s despicable rejection of the United Nations treaty on the rights of disabled people. 

The word “hero” is frequently over-used, but not in the case of Daniel Inouye.  The Senator was a true American hero, a legendary warrior in the most decorated American combat unit of World War II, and a man who selflessly dedicated his entire life to serving our country and the people of Hawaii.  I can’t imagine that too many years will pass before Hawaii replaces one of its two statues in the National Statuary Hall with a likeness of Daniel Inouye. 

I also found it to be fitting and beautiful that the last thing that Senator Inouye said before dying was “Aloha”.

It is interesting, yet not altogether shocking, to see plans beginning to form for the Obama Presidential Library despite the fact that President Obama is not quite halfway through his first term in the White House.  A Presidential Library is a honor for a city or university campus, brings in tourists and researchers, gives an international flavor to the host location, and establishes an institution of learning and history which will remain intact forever.

In Obama’s case, I can understand the arguments for a Presidential Library in Hawaii and I can also see why Chicago would be a solid choice.  In my opinion (which, in the long run, doesn’t matter much since nobody is asking my advice), the best place for an Obama Presidential Library is obviously Chicago.  Although the President was born in Hawaii, vacations in Hawaii, and certainly has strong ties to the islands, I believe that he is more readily identified as a Chicagoan.  Chicago was the base for his Presidential campaign and post-election transition headquarters, and if you asked Barack Obama, “Where are you from?”, I believe he’d answer “Chicago” far more easily than he’d say, “Hawaii”.

If you remove the personal connection from the decision and choose the Obama Presidential Library’s location on a logistical or logical basis, then Chicago is even more of a clear choice.  A Presidential Library is a depository of memories, an engine for legacy-building and history-teaching, and a complete archive of materials for researchers and scholars.  Hawaii would likely present the most beautiful setting or allow for architectural brilliance, but a Presidential Library should be accessible and somewhat centrally-located for researchers to converge upon it.  Chicago is one of the nation’s largest cities and located right in the heart of the country.  It’s easy to get to, easy to get around, and would allow for far greater numbers of tourists — an important funding source for Presidential Libraries.

Hawaii is President Obama’s birthplace and the state should be proud of that fact.  I think it’s something that Obama is proud of, too, and I do believe he feels a connection to the islands.  However, Chicago is Barack Obama’s home, as well as the home of his wife and daughters.  I can’t see a potential Obama Presidential Library being located anywhere else without seeming out of place. 

If the decision is too difficult, Obama can always placate both of his homes by splitting his institution up in two separate cities like Gerald Ford did.  Ford is the only President whose Presidential Library and Museum are separate entities from one another.  The Gerald Ford Presidential Library is a site for researchers to access the Ford Administration’s archives and records and it is located on the campus of Ford’s alma mater, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The Gerald Ford Presidential Museum focuses on Ford’s life and career with fascinating exhibits and displays of artifacts.  The Ford Museum is located in Ford’s old Congressional District and hometown, Grand Rapids, which is about 130 miles away from the Library.