Former President George W. Bush Unveils Library

Thursday, April 25th 2013, 2:29 pm
By: News 9

It is an historic day for a former President.

The 226,000-square foot George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated on Thursday, and each of the living U.S. presidents were there.

It isn't often that there's a meeting of all the members of the world's most exclusive club - Presidents of the United States. The last time all the nation's living presidents gathered was in 2009, days before President Barack Obama's inauguration, at a lunch hosted by President George W. Bush. On Thursday, they joined again as President Bush 43 unveils the library that will tell his story.

The museum, housed at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, lays out the story of George W. Bush's two terms -- both the successes and failures. One exhibit invites visitors to hear arguments over four tough decisions and debate them: whether to invade Iraq, to send federal troops in after Hurricane Katrina, to surge more troops into Iraq in 2007, and how to deal with the financial crisis of 2008.

The 9-11 attacks, which changed the course of Bush's presidency, are remembered most vividly with a charred tangle of steel beams.

Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Foundation, said, "It's where they believe one of the two planes actually collided into the building, and when you look at it now in the museum, it really looks like two towers falling over."

The exhibits admit that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, and they acknowledge the controversy over interrogation techniques in the War on Terror. Hardly mentioned are two of George W. Bush's most controversial advisers -- Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The museum opens to the public on May 1.

Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush hosted Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn at the invitation-only ceremony.

Thursday's dedication may not be just about history, CBS News' Bill Plante reported, but also about the future. Two potential presidential candidates for 2016 will attend, each one of them poised to extend the family dynasty: Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

George H.W. Bush received a standing ovation from the crowd of 10,000 as he honored his son at the dedication.

The former president was seated Thursday in Dallas next to his son as he smiled and congratulated the 43rd president. The elder Bush suffers from a form of Parkinson's disease that has forced him in recent years to use a motorized scooter or wheelchair to get around. He has been hospitalized recently for bronchitis.

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was among the protesters gathered near the dedication site.

She said she was protesting both Bush and Obama in the oval office.

Sheehan famously camped out near Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch to protest the war in Iraq. Eight years after her son died in Iraq, Sheehan says she still has a reason to protest.