After our morning at the Capitol and a great lunch on Congress Street, we drove about a mile northeast to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum. Built on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, the 10 story building houses all the papers and documents associated with LBJ's time in congress and the presidency. Only two and a half floors are open to the general public and comprise the museum portion of the place.
Like other Presidential Libraries and Museums we've been to, the main exhibit is a time-line walk through the years of the President's life. There are exhibits relating to his childhood, his first real job as a teacher, meeting and marrying his love, Lady Bird, his various campaigns for congress and the senate, his children, his accomplishments and difficulties as a legislator, and his 5 years as President.
Whatever a person may think of LBJ, (and there are some that still believe he had something to do with JFK's assassination -- we'll probably never really know), the facts present him as presiding over one of the most incredible periods of legislative accomplishments in this nations history. In those 5 years there are hundreds of bills that were signed into law that have major impact on what we are today: civil rights legislation; medicare; medicade; aid to education; highway beautification, war on poverty, the space race to the moon, and many others. Compare that to the almost total lack of any action by the current gridlocked congress.
On the negative side, both the nation and Johnson himself were torn apart by the Vietnam War that was escalated under his presidency. He ultimately decided not to run for re-election in 1968, under the weight of all the unrest and controversy surrounding the war. During the years of this war more than 50,000 U.S. citizens died in action -- a horrible price to pay for the result.
When his time in office was over he, like Harry Truman, moved back to his boyhood roots and home. In LBJ's case, that was the LBJ ranch in Stonewall Texas, just a short distance from where he was born and where he grew up. He died just four years later, in 1973, and is buried in the family cemetery at the ranch.
Walking through someone's life like this makes me even more aware of how fast time flies by... and how short our life really is.
Here again, check out the photos in our photo collection.
Pondering along the Pedernales...