Now on its way back to its regular home in the tack barn at Ronald Reagan’s beloved Rancho del Cielo, the president’s red Jeep has had quite a whirlwind tour of the United States.
It took a special flatbed truck just to get the 1962 Willys Jeep down the mountain from the Ranch, and another enclosed transport vehicle to make the cross-country trip. In all, the Jeep will have traversed more than 5,500 miles on its adventure to our nation’s capital.
As part of the Historic Vehicle Association’s (HVA) “Cars at the Capital” program, President Reagan’s Jeep was recognized by the National Historic Vehicle Register of the Library of Congress as an important artifact of American History and displayed prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in April.
The process of registering the vehicle with the HVA includes a photographic record, 3-D scans, and 2-D line drawings of the Jeep along with an historic narrative and a brief documentary film produced by HVA—all of which will be archived with the Library of Congress.
When the Jeep made it to D.C., it was rolled out onto the National Mall for a ceremony on April 14. Curator of the Reagan Ranch Marilyn Fisher was joined by several members of the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors including Chairman Frank Donatelli, Nicole and Eric Hoplin, Governor George Allen, Craig Shirley, Attorney General Edwin Meese, and Becky Norton Dunlop. Attorney General Meese also addressed a special luncheon hosted by the HVA following the ceremony on the Mall.
While on full display in a protective jewel-box from April 20 to 26, President Reagan’s Jeep became a centerpiece on the National Mall, being seen by an estimated 500,000 visitors. In addition to signage describing the Jeep’s history, large banners with the story of Ronald Reagan’s life, Rancho del Cielo, and Young America’s Foundation surrounded the display.
Sharing this Jeep is an important part of keeping President Reagan’s love of freedom alive for future generations. The opportunity to see one of the president’s most-loved possessions, especially the Jeep that allowed him to experience the freedom Rancho del Cielo offered, imparts a sense of humility that made Ronald Reagan one of our nation’s greatest leaders. All it takes is one look at the brush-scratched paint and horse-gnawed upholstery of this legendary vehicle and you’ll understand exactly the kind of man Ronald Reagan was.
Young America’s Foundation stepped forward to save President Reagan’s Western White House in the spring of 1998 to preserve it as a living monument to Reagan’s lasting accomplishments and to make it the centerpiece of the student programs. President Reagan committed himself to reaching young people with his ideas—a goal that is also central to the Foundation’s mission. Preserving the Ranch and passing on the President’s values and ideas is Young America’s Foundation’s way of thanking Ronald Reagan for all he did for our country and the world.