DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Today the eyes of the nation are on North Texas for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University.
All living American presidents past and present are attending the dedication. Today’s dedication is an invitation only event being attended by dignitaries from around the world.
Some of the current and former heads of state that will be there include – Former President Bush’s biggest supporter during the Iraq war; Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Former President of Spain Josè Marìa Aznar, Former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert, Former President of Ghana John Kufuor and the Former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi.
Some 10,000 people gathered outside for the dedication ceremony.
The spectacle of such an event is one that hasn’t been seen in North Texas for a while. Certainly Southern Methodist University President Gerald Turner agreed he hasn’t seen it before. “From time to time I try to remind myself, ‘You’re not just working. You need to see and enjoy what’s going on too, as well as making sure it operates well.’”
The Bush Presidential Library and Museum was officially handed over to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration on Wednesday. Its 70 million paper records and 200 million e-mails are now public domain and in the hands of archivists.
The accomplishment is something that Turner considers a dream come true. “We’ve been working on this for 12 years now and so it’s one of those times that you’ve worked so hard on something, and want it to occur, that when it does you kinda have to pinch yourself to make sure it’s real.”
The library and museum include a full-scale replica of the Oval Office, as it was during Bush’s tenure. The library for the 43rd President of the United States also has the largest digital holdings of any of the 13 presidential libraries under the auspices of the National Archives.
The new facility sits in a 15-acre park at SMU and includes some 226,000 square feet of indoor space. The formal public opening of the facility is May 1.