U.S. celebrates Reagan's 100th birthday

Feb. 3, 2011 at 10:26 AM
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SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Celebrations honoring former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who would have hit the century mark Sunday, culminate this weekend in California and Texas.

Weekend's festivities at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., highlighting a year's worth of events around the country will cost about $ 5 million, which foundation employees said was raised through private fundraisers, The New York Times reported.

Memorials, including a 21-gun salute and a graveside wreath-laying by Nancy Reagan, were expected to draw a myriad of former aides and supporters, the newspaper said Wednesday.

Speeches, academic panels, a Rose Parade float, commemorative stamps and jelly beans, musical concerts and a video to be played during the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas, are just part of the activities honoring the two-term Republican president who died seven years ago.

While the memorials and special events pay tribute to Reagan, they also provide a forum for 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls, observers told the Times. Among the prospective candidates are political commentators Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who, in his book about Reagan, called the 40th president the "most successful president at actually achieving his specific and articulated goals."

If the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation has any say, similar accolades would be heard for years to come.

"Our job is to promote the legacy of his words and work, which were simply incredible," John Heubusch, the foundation's executive director, told the Times. "I'd go toe-to-toe to debate with anyone who said he was not a transformational president. He certainly was."

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