Ronald Reagan’s prized 1962 red Jeep made the long trip from California to Washington, D.C., this week, arriving in the nation’s capital to be immortalized in history by the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) and displayed to the public on the National Mall.
The iconic Willys Jeep was a favorite of Reagan during his getaways to Rancho del Cielo, commonly known today as the Reagan Ranch. Experts will perform 3-D scans and 2-D line drawings of the Jeep, to be stored with a photographic record, description and documentary of the Jeep in the Library of Congress.
“President Reagan loved that vehicle and traversed Rancho del Cielo for many years riding it’s trails,” Frank Donatelli, a former Reagan adviser told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The ranch underlines Reagan’s love of freedom, the virtue that best defines his entire time in public life.”
The Young America’s Foundation (YAF), which works to preserve the Reagan Ranch along with its trove of artifacts from his presidency, sent the Willys Jeep on its journey to Washington April 4. President Reagan’s companion arrived April 14, visible to tourists on the National Mall as HVA prepares for the “This Car Matters” display.
— The Reagan Ranch (@TheReaganRanch) April 14, 2016
The red Willys Jeep will be available for public viewing from April 20 – 26 as part of the HVA’s “This Car Matters” display.
Experts on the Reagan presidency say the Willys Jeep and his Santa Barbra ranch, also referred to as the Western White House, served as a treasured getaway for the president. It was the only place Reagan could freely drive as Commander-In-Chief, using the Jeep to do work around the ranch and enjoy the vast natural landscape. Donatelli said Reagan loved to spend his time outdoors, keeping himself busy with chores around the property.
“He frequently said if the Ranch ‘wasn’t heaven, it was in the same zip code,'” Donatelli said. “He loved the trails, the riding, the wood cutting and the freedom that the ranch stood for.”
The Willys Jeep also gives a glimpse into Reagan’s character, embodying his simple and relatable nature. YAF says it shows a side of Reagan many Americans, especially youths, are not aware of.
“Everybody in the conservative movement cites President Reagan as an inspiration, but to really get to know him and have a deeper understanding of his character, you have to see artifacts like the Jeep and the Reagan Ranch for yourself,” Emily Jashinsky of YAF told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’ve brought thousands of young Americans through the garage at the Reagan Ranch in recent years and just watched their jaws drop as they see it, surrounded by President Reagan’s chainsaws and lawnmowers, and just marvel at his humility.”
The Willys Jeep will return to it’s home in Santa Barbra in May. YAF says the display will help educate and inspire countless tourists during its stint in the U.S. capital.
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