The dedication of the Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace was best summed up by Yorba Linda Mayor Gene Wisner when he said, “This is a day Yorba Linda will never forget.”
His mood was magnified by the estimated 50,000 cheering Nixonphiles who jammed the bleachers inside and massed along the site outside.
Despite the near-90 degree day, nobody complained about the long lines, the longer lines for soft drinks, or the longer, long lines for restrooms.
“It's total excitement,” said one Yorba Lindan—Kris Bittick, who, with her mother, Barbara, and their friends Barbara and Rick Buschine, arrived early and scrambled to a top bleacher seat.
The 2,000 VIPs had it a little better. Each of their seats came wit a program, and they all used them—as a fan.
Though not a VIP, 11-year-old Nancy Carmack of Yorba Linda, sat like one atop a barrel in the parking lot. Dressed in red, white and blue and waving a U.S. flag, she said the event was neat because she would be able to see other presidents besides Reagan, whom she had seen before.
Finally, shortly after 10 a.m., Hollywood's unofficial mayor, Johnny Grant, announced what everyone waited almost two years to hear, “The dedication ceremony will now begin.”
Pent-up cheers rose from the stands. The press, and those unable to find a seat, surged forward. Secret service personnel, wearing suits, dark glasses and stolid looks, seemed ubiquitous.
The four presidents and their wives then entered, waved and took their seats.
Former President Gerald Ford, in his comments, told the Nixons that “This is a celebration you richly deserve. It proved you can come home again.”
“Richard Nixon is a patriot who understands the world,” said former President Ronald Reagan.
President George Bush, at times talking over a band of demonstrators in the street outside, told the crowd more people voted for Nixon than for any other man in history.
“Nixon was middle America's president representing their values and dreams,” Bush said.
Then, before a sea of victory signs and cries of “welcome back,” former president Richard Nixon took the podium. Clearly moved, he cleared his throat a few times before saying that in all his travels, “Nothing matches this moment to be welcomed home again so warmly.”
Nixon summed up his political career by saying, “It's a long way from Yorba Linda to the White House.”
The 37th president of the United States waves to admirers who warmly welcomed him during ceremonies to dedicate the Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace. Yorba Linda resident Cherl Krystack (right) was one of the 50,000 spectators who witnessed the dedication. Yorba Linda Mayor Gene Wisner said “This is a day Yorba Linda will never forget.”
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