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Bush Library offers chance to memorialize ex-president

By BRETT NAUMAN

Eagle Staff Writer

Wisconsin residents Tom and Marty Asplund on Monday were among the first to put their thoughts about Ronald Reagan onto a scroll created at the George Bush Presidential Library that later will be sent to the former president’s family.

The comments jotted down by the Asplunds, who are in town from Stoughton to visit their son, now will be part of an exhibit on display in the museum’s rotunda for the next 30 days for those wanting to offer condolences to Reagan family, said Douglas Menarchik, director of the Bush Library.

“ It’s an awesome opportunity to be part of this,” said Marty Asplund moments after she signed the scroll. “To contribute to something’s that such a lasting memory is neat.”

Dozens hoping to offer their sympathy left messages to Reagan and his family when the scroll was placed out for the public late Monday afternoon. Several messages referred to accomplishments achieved during his presidency.

“ May the Peace you helped forge find you now and keep you forever,” one entry said. A picture of Reagan, Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev taken at a 1988 peace summit in New York City flanks the display.

An entry signed by Denise Martin said: “With sympathy to the Reagan family. President Reagan was the 1st [and best] President I have had the privilege to vote for.”

Marty Asplund said she’ll remember being able to sign the scroll for the rest of her life. Reagan was a man “of principle, integrity and a sense of honor,” she said.

Asplund, a history teacher at a private school, said she believes Reagan will be remembered for taking a stand against the Soviet Union, whether it was in Berlin or in the nuclear arms race.

“ His whole life he was what he represented himself to be,” Asplund said. “He was a man of the people, and he was willing to stand up for peoples’ rights and safety.”

Officials said this weekend will be an opportunity for many out-of-town guests wanting to sign the scroll.

A Bush spokesman said several events scheduled to celebrate the 80th birthday of former President George H.W. Bush will continue as scheduled following a week of mourning for Reagan.

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend a gala Saturday in Houston at Minute Maid Park, and officials said just as many are expected to show up Sunday in College Station to watch Bush make his second parachute jump over the museum in the past five years.

“ Given the charitable nature of these events, we believe President Reagan would be the first to say, ‘The show must go on,’” said Bush spokesman Jim McGrath.

Proceeds from this weekend’s celebration are expected to go toward the George Bush Forty-One Endowment, which will fund permanent endowments at the library foundation, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Points of Light Foundation.

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