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Feature Stories

Seeing 9/11 through President Bush's eyes

By Cindy Richards, "LifeTimes" Editor

Just as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy became a defining moment for those alive on Nov. 22, 1963, events of Sept 11, 2001, ("9/11") became a defining moment for the current generation.

Terrorist attacks on 9/11 brought down New York's twin World Trade Center towers, left a gaping hole in the Pentagon, and made heroes of passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when they forced the plane into a Pennsylvania cornfield. A focal point of George W. Bush's presidency, these events are featured at his Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

Two twisted beams from the Twin Towers form a dramatic scale model of the World Trade Centers and serve as the museum's centerpiece.

If the twisted beams aren't enough to bring a tear of remembrance to your eyes, video screens lining the walls likely will. They play a constant loop of video showing the towers crashing to the ground and the last words of the passengers on board United Flight 93 before they overpowered the hijackers and crashed their plane short of its intended target.

The sight is made even more dramatic because of its placement in the museum. The exhibit preceding it is a beautiful display of library books and information about the first lady's reading initiatives. A long shelf is filled with favorite children's books – from "Goodnight Moon" to "Hank the Cow Dog" – that raise happy memories for anyone who has read to a child.

But lurking just around the next corner is the stark twin towers reminder of 9/11.

Other museum attractions

The museum has the requisite presidential museum feature – full-size replica of the Oval Office as it looked when Bush used it. One display showcases gifts given to the Bushes by dignitaries from around the world. There's a challenging interactive exhibit asking visitors who they would listen to (CIA, Congress, UN advisors, the Defense Department, others?) – to determine how to respond to world events. There's also a charming video by first daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush that humanizes the president. President Ronald Reagan once called presidential libraries and museums "classrooms of democracy." They are history as seen through the eyes of those who lived it.

The Bush Museum opened in April on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It includes a restaurant serving gourmet soups and sandwiches at affordable prices. Admission is $16 for adults ($13 for ages 62+) and $10 for retired military. Parking is free in the small lot near the museum, although it's likely to be full. This means you'll need to pay to park in the SMU parking garage about a block away.

If you're in Dallas, don't miss a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum, which dramatizes the events leading up to, during and after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy while he rode in a motorcade through the streets on Nov. 22, 1963.

Read more about honoring JFK in Dallas