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The Café and Courtyard will be closed Sunday, Nov. 17 in preparation for a special event. The museums will close at 5:00 pm, at which point visitors will be directed to exit through the building’s F street lobby. The G street exit and ramp will remain accessible to those who need it. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan at Bitburg, West Germany
Dirck Halstead, born 1936
Ronald Wilson Reagan, 6 Feb 1911 - 5 Jun 2004
Color photograph on paper
Image: 34.4 x 22.8cm (13 9/16 x 9")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Dirck Halstead
Object number
Exhibition Label
On May 5, 1985, President Reagan and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl visited a military cemetery outside of Bitburg, Germany, laying a wreath to honor Germany’s war dead. Several weeks before Reagan’s trip, the White House was informed that forty-eight Hitler SS storm troopers were also buried at Bitburg. Congressional resolutions, World War II veterans, Holocaust survivors, clergy, and even Nancy Reagan urged the president to cancel the cemetery visit. Reagan, who could be stubborn under pressure, wrote in his diary, “There is no way I’ll back down.” Time feared that the “Bitburg episode cut deep into the veneer of postwar friendships.” However, thousands of Germans lined the motorcade route with signs expressing their appreciation to Reagan. At home, polls indicated that Americans approved of Reagan’s actions.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection