DALLAS — Ambassador Mark Langdale has a big title: President of the George W. Bush Foundation.
But really, he’s just the guy next door — literally — to the Bushes.
“I met them in 1988 when they bought the house next door to me," Langdale said. "We have been friends for a long time."
Former President Bush called on him to start work on the library, and so he did back in 2008, during the crunch of the economic crisis.
His task was to raise $300 million.
“I started as employee No. 1," Langdale said. "It was just me and a card table."
Now the ambassador is part of a large team bringing into focus the vision and history of George W. Bush's two-term presidency.
“When you become president and first lady, and you're in everybody's living room for eight years, you become a character, a celebrity — not really a real person," Langdale said. "It's important that we crack that."
Langdale hopes to accomplish that through videos, 35 interactive games, and 43,000 artifacts to walk you through history, while helping you get to know the Bushes in a more personal way — like he does.
“It's the scrapbook, if you will," he said. "[The library exhibits are] what [the Bushes] think were the important things in their service that they want to highlight and share with the American people."
And he said when President Bush walked in for the first time, out of 200 million documents and thousand of artifacts, one set in particular stopped the 43rd president in his tracks.
“I think he is struck by the power of the exhibit that focuses on 9/11,” Langdale said.
From that fateful day, to Laura Bush's focus on education, everything displayed inside is hand-picked by the former first family.
“It is their prerogative to have that first cut at history, if you will,” Langdale said.