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Nancy Reagan Attends Public Celebration Marking Husband's 93rd Birthday - 2004-02-07


Friends and admirers of Ronald Reagan celebrated the former president's 93rd birthday Friday at the Reagan Presidential Library, near Los Angeles. Reagan spent the day at home in what a spokesman called a "quiet celebration" with his family.

Nancy Reagan stood in for her ailing husband at the public celebration, as noontime visitors signed cards and children sang "Happy Birthday."

The library and museum in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley celebrate Mr. Reagan's accomplishments. The facility includes a full-sized replica of his White House Oval Office.

Library officials unveiled the cornerstone for a new exhibit called the Air Force One Pavilion. When completed, it will feature the airplane that carried Mr. Reagan when he served as president.

Library spokeswoman Melissa Giller describes the themes that the exhibits are meant to convey. "The sense of pride, American pride, the sense of self he gave the American people, and what he did to help end the Cold War," she said. "And that is the story that we are going to tell inside the Air Force One Pavilion."

Many credit the former president with bringing down the Iron Curtain that separated Eastern from Western Europe. A harsh critic of the former Soviet Union, he struck up an unlikely friendship with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Mr. Reagan left office in 1989. He announced in 1994 that he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative brain disorder, and in recent years has been secluded in his Los Angeles home. Mrs. Reagan and daughter Patti Davis planned to celebrate with the former president Friday evening.