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Reagan's Gone, but His Name Lives On

June 09, 2004|Bob Pool | Times Staff Writer

The Ronald Reagan motorcade passed close to the new Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood as it headed toward the Ronald Reagan Freeway in the San Fernando Valley on its way Monday to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs near Simi Valley.

Today, the body of former President Reagan will likely circle somewhere high above the Santa Barbara mountain spread best known as the Reagan Ranch when the military plane carrying it to Washington sweeps east, perhaps over the Ronald Reagan Elementary School in Bakersfield.

As it flies over the Midwest, the Ronald Reagan Middle School and the Ronald Reagan Bridge in Dixon, Ill., will be on the left.

At its end, the flight could swoop over Washington's Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and the Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University Hospital. It will land at an Air Force base a few miles from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va.

The 40th president may be gone, but his name looms large across the United States.

And those who view him as their political hero are determined to see Ronald Reagan's name or face emblazoned on at least one landmark in every county in the country. Not to mention on the currency in our wallets and on the side of Mt. Rushmore.

His supporters were off to a good start even before Reagan's death Saturday in Bel-Air at age 93.

Organizers of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project are already boasting of 52 "dedications to Ronald Reagan" in the United States, plus three in other countries.

Reagan's adopted home state of California has the most.

Along with the Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center -- a half-built, $900-million addition to the Westwood campus -- and the freeway that formerly was called the Simi Valley-San Fernando Valley Freeway, there's the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, the Ronald Reagan California Republican Center in Burbank, the state's Ronald Reagan Office Building in downtown Los Angeles and the Ronald W. Reagan Educational Center in Fresno.

In Santa Barbara, there's the Ronald Reagan Ranch Center, which is run by a foundation that owns nearby Reagan Ranch, which Reagan himself called Rancho del Cielo.

Century City has the $10,000-per-night St. Regis Hotel Presidential Suite, whose inaugural guests in 1984 were Ronald and Nancy Reagan. It's a sprawling, three-bedroom, five-bath place with a mahogany dining table that seats 12. It was formally called the Ronald Reagan Suite until three years ago, when St. Regis took over the hotel and renamed it, spokeswoman Kelly Vogt said Tuesday.

Dixon, Ill., where Reagan grew up, has the Best Western Reagan Hotel and its own $135-per-night Presidential Suite. It's a three-room setup with a king-size bed, refrigerator and microwave, "and a boardroom that seats 12 comfortably."

Dixon also has the Reagan Middle School and the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, which is a locally operated museum. Its Reagan Bridge crosses over the Rock River. Nearby Tampico, Ill., boasts Ronald Reagan's Birthplace and Reagan Park.

Eureka, Ill., where Reagan attended Eureka College, is home to the Reagan Physical Education Center, Reagan Drive, the Ronald W. Reagan Exhibit and the Ronald W. Reagan Leadership Program, in addition to Ronald Reagan Peace Garden. The Ronald Reagan nuclear aircraft carrier, meanwhile, is based in Virginia.

Louisiana lists the Ronald Reagan Highway between the Mississippi River and the Mississippi state line. Cincinnati, Ohio, has a Ronald Reagan Highway that runs through its northern suburbs. Warwick, N.Y., has a Ronald Reagan Boulevard. Bucks County, Pa., has Ronald Reagan Drive.

Officials in Miami, Fla., renamed one of its streets Ronald Reagan Avenue. The 312-mile Ronald Reagan Turnpike runs from northern Florida to south of Miami. Both Hillsborough County, Fla., and Lawrenceville, Ga., have Ronald Reagan parkways. Lawmakers in Tennessee are considering whether to designate State Route 840 a Ronald Reagan Parkway, too.

The decision in 2000 to rename UCLA's Medical Center after her husband drew praise from Nancy Reagan. The expanded Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is expected to open in October 2005, said spokesman Max Benavidez.

"He would be so proud to have this great medical center, this fabulous medical center, named after him," the former first lady said at the time of the renaming.

But two months ago, Nancy Reagan turned down a plan to create a Ronald Reagan University in Colorado. Former presidents and their spouses can veto the use of the president's name.

And to the dismay of some congressional Republicans who want to replace Franklin D. Roosevelt's image on the dime with that of her husband, Nancy Reagan has voiced opposition to that, too.

Ronald Reagan loyalists such as Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell have proposed replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with Reagan. Others have suggested putting his face on the $20 bill, the half-dollar and even Mt. Rushmore.

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