Radio Remarks to Young Americans on George Washington’s Birthday, Mount Vernon, Virginia February 22, 1982

George Washington, America’s first president, is perhaps best known for his role in the American Revolution. In 1781, Washington led his troops to victory by forcing the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. A few years later, at the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia of 1787, Washington was elected president. After completing his two terms, Washington retired to his home in Mount Vernon, until his death on December 14, 1799. In the words of Ronald Reagan, because of Washington, “we’re free and we’re Americans.”

On February 22. 1982, President Reagan delivered a radio address to young Americans from Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, in commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington.

Document excerpt:

“…George Washington and his generation of Americans met their challenge. We can, we must, and we will meet ours.

To the students across America listening in, if Washington seems much larger than life & makes you feel a little smaller, I’ll let you in on a secret—he makes us all feel that way. But you do matter—a lot. I’m sure he would tell you the important thing is to find your goal—and go for it. Then, if you fail—and he himself failed many times—pick yourselves back up & try again.

Remember, our problems are also opportunities. You can take us to new frontiers in space—find medical cures for deadly disease—discover technological breakthroughs, develop better ways to group food, provide shelter, & produce energy. The world’s hope is still America’s future. America’s future is in your dreams. Make them come true—the only limits are your imagination, and your determination….”

-Document courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Archives

Video of the speech (quoted text begins at the 9:20 mark):

Primary source documents:–remarks-of-the-president-and-press-releas.pdf


  1. What is the first word you think of when you hear the name George Washington? Why?
  2. Read the first sentence in the excerpt. List three challenges George Washington and his generation faced.
  3. List three challenges you and your generation face.
  4. How can problems be seen as opportunities? Do you have any examples to share?
  5. What problem did George Washington face that became an opportunity?
  6. What is America’s current frontier? Describe and explain. Provide an example.
  7. Based on the excerpt from above, do you think President Reagan was an optimist or a pessimist? Highlight/copy/underline the phrase or sentence which best supports your answer.
  8. Do you think President Reagan thought President Washington was a role model? Circle/highlight/copy the phrase or sentence which best supports your answer


Vocabulary: Define-

                            Determination                   Opportunity

                            Frontier                               Role Model



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Media Literacy Week

Media Literacy Week is November 6 – 10, 2017 and the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration, is happy to share classroom-ready materials specifically designed to build stronger literacy skills in students.  

Through innovation and technology the National Archives sets the gold-standard in education for using primary sources in the classroom. Below educators will find links to resources that are useful for teaching media literacy and critical thinking in the classroom.

How to Read a News Story

For teachers, representatives from the Johnson and Reagan Presidential Libraries roll out and share a media literacy curriculum created using both contemporary and historical documents from the National Archives. Designed to be used to help students identify and recognize bias in media.

How to Read a Document Guide

The “How to Read a Document” guide provides examples of newscasts, historical photos, newspaper articles, cables and memoranda. The diagrams within are available to provide students with historical literacy skills.

How to Read a Document Workbook

The “How to Read a Document” workbook is a packet of worksheets designed to help students practice historical literacy skills.

Case Study

The purpose of the case study is to engage students in a group decision making experience around a complex fictional community issue. Students will have the opportunity to gather information from difference sources and rank the sources from 1 – 5 with 5 being the “best” source. This exercise will help prepare students to engage critical thinking skills in a social setting.

For additional resources from the National Archives visit the following URL:

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1960’s Student Movement

This blog post comes from Eduardo, a graduate student in History at California State University Northridge, and he has just completed a Summer internship at the Reagan Library.

During my recent internship at the Ronald Reagan Library I examined the Reagan Gubernatorial collection, which involved correspondence letters from conservative and liberal historical perspectives on American student activism. As I examined these letters, I realized that social issues in the 1960s are similar to the ongoing issues our country is experiencing in today’s world. For instance, Berkeley and the right to free speech has been a topic of discussion in recent days since controversial conservative figures such as Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter canceled their visit at Berkeley during the “Free Speech Week.” In addition, these letters also demonstrate the negative relationship between African-Americans and law enforcement officers. Overall, these letters mainly focus on the protests and riots that were occurring in universities across the state of California. Business owners, students, and parents were angry over the lack of police presence during these protests because of Reagan’s tax boost during his term as governor of California. Most importantly, the Vietnam draft also sparked the student uprising. As a result, many conservatives labeled liberals as Marxist and communist because liberal students refused to enter the draft. As a matter of fact, I discovered a newspaper that published an article stating that students would earn college credits if they protested against the Vietnam War. Moreover, a few letters describe why parents refused to enroll their children in universities such as Berkeley and San Francisco State. Finally, I discovered that U.S. flag burnings were common during student uprisings. For instance, two female Berkeley students were accused of burning a U.S. flag in Spain. Subsequently Spain deported both students.

Questions for students:

    1. Why would a college offer class credits for participation in a political demonstration or march?
    2. In Jefferson Davis’ letter to Ronald Reagan he stated that the United States is, “in a state of civil insurrection and internal war.” How does he support this claim, and do you believe that terminology is justified? Why do you believe or not believe Davis’ statement is justified?
    3. Why would students burn the United States flag? What is the purpose and symbolism behind the burning of the flag?
    4. What were some of the reasons parents refused to enroll their children in certain colleges? Are there any schools you would not let your child attend? Why?
    5. Do you believe Reagan had an appropriate response to the protests and demonstrations? State your reasoning Continue reading
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Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This blog post is a companion piece to this exhibit on the Google Cultural Institute.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1984, Memorial Day. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial faced many challenges and obstacles, but nothing was able to prevent its creation. President Reagan was introduced by Senator John Warner at the Memorandum of Conveyance, which transferred the rights to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation to the United States Department of the Interior. President Reagan shared, with the American people, what he believed to be the greater purpose of the Memorial at the dedication ceremony, “The war in Vietnam threatened to tear our society apart, and the political and philosophical disagreements that animated each side continue to some extent.” President Reagan continued, “It’s been said that these memorials reflect a hunger for healing. Well, I do not know if perfect healing ever occurs, but I know that sometimes when a bone is broken, if it’s knit together well, it will in the end be stronger than if it had not been broken.”

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum will be live streaming a discussion this Tuesday (10/17/17) with directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about their PBS documentary series, The Vietnam War. The discussion will be moderated by Cokie Roberts, and hosted by the National Archives in Washington D.C. In conjunction with this event the Reagan Library will be displaying a one-day exhibit on the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. The event is free to the public.

Please send RSVP’s for this event to Carol Cohea at 805.577.4065

Questions for students:

Why did Jan Scruggs believe a Vietnam Veterans Memorial was necessary?

Why was it important to have Nancy Reagan on the board of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation?

Why did the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation choose Maya Lin’s design?

What were the reasons people supported the Vietnam Veterans Memorial? Contrast that with the reasons people did not support the Memorial.

List at least three names of the members of Congress who did not support the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

What was the compromise made to allow the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be constructed?

In your opinion, what is the purpose of creating a memorial? (Memorials in general, not specifically the Vietnam Veterans Memorial)

When was the Memorial officially approved?

Which President signed the bill to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?

Were any public funds used to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?

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The 25th Amendment: Section 4 and March 30, 1981

In 2015 the Reagan Presidential Library began developing a one-of-a-kind experiential learning simulation called the Situation Room Experience.  One of the pivotal issues in the Situation Room Experience regards the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.   The 25th Amendment was ratified February 10, 1967.  Today’s blog post, from Reagan Library Education Department staffer Brett Robert, is the third of a series that explores that Amendment in-depth.  The first post in this series looked at Sections 1 and 2, and the last post looked at Section 3, today’s post examines Section 4.


From left to right James Baker, then Chief of Staff, Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, and President Reagan having a discussion at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C. April 8, 1981.  Because the 25th Amendment was not invoked when the President was shot on March 30, 1981, President Reagan continued making decisions and doing the work of the President even as he recovered from his shooting in the hospital.

After President Ronald Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981, his administration prepared, but did not sign, the letters necessary to invoke the 25th Amendment, which shows how concerned they were with the possibility of having a temporary acting President until President Reagan could recover.   One of the letters is shown below,  or you can download a .pdf of the complete set of letters here.  The letter seen here would have invoked Section 4 of the 25th Amendment if Vice President George H.W. Bush and a majority of the Cabinet members had signed that letter and sent it to the Senate President pro tempore, which was Strom Thurmond at the time, and the Speaker of the House, then Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.  Continue reading

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The 25th Amendment: Section 3 and July 13, 1985

In 2015 the Reagan Presidential Library began developing a one-of-a-kind experiential learning simulation called the Situation Room Experience.  One of the pivotal issues in the Situation Room Experience regards the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.   Recently we looked at how Sections 1 and 2 of the 25th Amendment were first invoked in 1973 and 1974 upon the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Richard Nixon.  This post, from Reagan Library Education Department staffer Brett Robert, examines Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, which was first invoked during President Reagan’s second term.  The final post in the series looks at Section 4.

soth ltr draft with notes july 13 1985

An early draft of the letter to the Speaker of the House used to invoke the 25th Amendment in 1985. President Reagan was concerned about setting a precedent which future Presidents might be pressured to follow.

On July 13, 1985 President Ronald Reagan became the first President to invoke Section 3 of the 25th Amendment.  Or did he?  Like the Amendment requires, President Reagan sent a letter to the President pro tempore of the Senate, which was Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina at the time, and Speaker of the House, which was then Representative Thomas “Tip” O’Neill of Massachusetts.  In the draft above there are a couple lines which indicate that President Reagan had some misgivings about using the Amendment for a brief surgery.  “I do not believe that the drafters of this Amendment intended its applications to situations such as the instant one,” is a line from the draft that made it into the final letter.

Continue reading

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The 25th Amendment: The Situation Room Experience and United States History

In 2015 the Reagan Presidential Library began developing a one-of-a-kind experiential learning simulation called the Situation Room Experience.  Developed primarily for high school juniors and seniors, the game allows students to step into the role of a government official or member of the press to deal with a modern, fictional, foreign policy crisis based on the real documents kept within the archives at the Reagan Library.  One of the pivotal issues in the Situation Room Experience regards the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This blog post, from Reagan Library Education Department staffer Brett Robert, is the first of a series that explores that Amendment in-depth.  Part II of the series examines Section 3 of the 25th Amendment.

An oil painting of William Henry Harrison looking young and strong in a military dress uniform, holding a sword in his left hand.

This 1813 portrait of William Henry Harrison by Rembrandt Peale is from the National Portrait Gallery.  In this portrait Harrison is at the height of his powers as a young military officer, but he was the oldest President sworn into office until President Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.

On April 3, 1841 when William Henry Harrison died in office only a month into his first term, a Constitutional crisis occurred centering around Presidential succession.  No American President had died in office before.  Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution states “In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President.”  An argument took shape that was not settled until the ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967.  Some argued that this clause meant only that the Vice President would become Acting President taking on the powers of the Presidency, but not the actual President of the United States.  Vice President John Tyler argued that he was now President of the United States, and had himself sworn in as such.  His political opponents mockingly nicknamed him “His Accidency” and his single term was plagued by a contentious relationship with Congress.

The problem of Presidential succession continued to plague the United States until the 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967.  Since 1792, Congress has passed several laws and Constitutional Amendments to clarify the process of Presidential succession, which you can explore in some of the resources listed at the bottom of this post.  Yet there were still problems that these laws could not solve, problems the 25th Amendment was designed to solve.  The 25th Amendment has 4 sections, each of which was written to address a different problem of Presidential succession.  Today’s blog post addresses the first two sections of the 25th Amendment.  The rest of this series will discuss sections 3 and 4 and tell the history of the 25th Amendment and how it became part of our United States Constitution. Continue reading

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Film This! 2017 Arrives at the Reagan Library

Today’s guest blog from our summer volunteer Beatrice explores our annual documentary filmmaking workshop for high school students, called Film This!  This was the first of two Film This! sessions that the Reagan Library will be offering this summer. There are limited spots still available for Session B, July 24-28. For more information or to register, email


Last week, 10 high school students from California, and one all the way from North Carolina, made their way to the Reagan Library for a week of film-making. This is the fifth year of Film This!, a program that acts as a hyper-condensed movie masterclass. For five days, students are taught by veterans Eric and Sue van Hamersveld through both lectures and the real experience of creating a short historical documentary from start to finish. This year, actor and past Film This! award winner Atticus Shaffer returned to lend his expertise as a teaching assistant and voice director.


Instructor Eric van Hamersveld introducing the students’ films at a screening for friends and family on Friday.

“There are students who write to us, saying they learned more in our five-day class than they did in a semester of another film class,” Eric said. “It’s so great because it’s not just how to hold a camera or how to edit, but how to tell a story, how to ask critical questions.” Eric, an animator, and Sue, a graphic designer, guide students through the complete filmmaking process, from brainstorming ideas and titles to the final finishing touches of editing. As the week progressed, it was easy to see why students attested to learning so much at Film This! The mix of professional mentors and the resources to create historical documentaries creates an outstanding and one-of-a-kind learning experience. Continue reading

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Reagan Library Film Festival 2017

Today’s post comes from Reagan Library Education Department staffer Brett Robert.



February means it’s time for the annual Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Student Film Festival in which we screen and recognize outstanding student-made documentaries.  The awards ceremony was held February 2, 2017 and without further ado, here are this year’s winning films.

Best Overall:  TIE!!!

Roosevelt and the USO by Shane P.R. Carlson and Hannah Newman

Primetime: John F. Kennedy and the Media by Mimi Cocquyt, Titan Teachman, and Sophia Berryhill

Continue reading

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Presidents’ Day Research Guide

Today’s post comes from Reagan Library Education Department staffer Brett Robert.


Four Presidents Together: President Reagan made some remarks at the Diplomatic Entrance of the White House prior to the departure of three former Presidents, Nixon, Ford and Carter, for Egypt and President Anwar Sadat’s Funeral.  October 8, 1981.  (C4361-12A)

With President’s Day coming up on February 20 students in America’s schools are faced with daunting questions as teachers assign research projects: which President should they study and where can they research them?  Maybe you are happily finished with your formal education but love to learn about the Presidents and want to really dig in.  How can you do that?  Fear not, we have compiled a list of some of the great resources out there regarding the history of the American Presidency.  In fact, let’s start the list with this great article about the history of Presidents’ Day, officially known as Washington’s Birthday. Continue reading

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