December 29, 2008
Yesterday, December 28, was (or would have been) the 152nd birthday of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, born in 1856 right here in Staunton. The event was duly marked [with an open house hosted] by the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum (WWPL), and for once I managed to attend. The museum is very well maintained, full of artifacts and old photographs from the years of Wilson's presidency and his earlier career. I have studied Wilson in some depth, but I still learned a lot in the hour or two that I was there. The festivities were covered by the News Leader, and I was the subject of one of their photographs.
This year is special because the Wilson Library and Museum recently acquired an adjacent house (a former bed and breakfast) that will provide adequate space and research facilities for the library, which has had to scrimp in recent years. Unlike other presidential libraries which are part of the National Park System, Wilson's is run by a private foundation. Back in August, the executive director of the WWPL, Eric Vettel, wrote a column in the News Leader about the need for federal funding. Fortunately, a bill authorizing matching grants (though not specifically aimed at the WWPL) was passed, and the Presidential Records Preservation Act of 2008 was signed by President Bush on October 13. Credit for this goes to outgoing Senator John Warner, Senator Jim Webb, and Congressman Bob Goodlatte.
Many Republicans still cringe at the thought of Barack Obama being sworn in as president, and many Democrats are still gloating with revenge, but there are many folks on both sides who want to set aside all that partisan acrimony. To see a bunch of photos of bipartisan harmony at the "grassroots" level, see From 52 to 48 with Love, which refers to the percentage of votes received by Obama and McCain. (Actually, it was more like 53 to 47.) Hat tip to Waldo.