Feb 6, 2010
Moments ago I received an email reminding me that Saturday would have been President Reagan’s 99th birthday. As I sit here writing this, I find it hard to believe that I lived through the Reagan years. I wasn’t a Republican at the time and in fact I wasn’t too concerned about the political world in the least bit. I was more concerned about music, the new wave of MTV, the latest television programs, baseball cards, and hair. We won’t even talk about the big hair of the 1980’s. Nevertheless, through it all, I admired Reagan. I came from a Democratic household that did not admire Reagan in the least bit, but despite family persuasions I admired him.
Several Reagan memories stand out in my mind on this early morning. I can remember President Reagan and Nancy’s response as the space shuttle carrying the first teacher into space blew up in the sky and on our television. I can remember how Reagan came on television to comfort the nation, reassure the children who were watching, and remind the world that America would not abandon the space program. I can remember when Reagan allowed terrorist to take a plane after freeing their hostages, and I can remember when he proudly announced that U.S. Warplanes and encouraged those same terrorist to land their stolen plane. I can remember when Reagan was shot and how he rose and became the symbol of the American male. I can remember wondering why so many people thought of John Wayne as an “American Hero” when we had the man in the White House who was so many of John Wayne’s characters all rolled up into one.
I have so many other memories of President Reagan that it would take far too long to list them here. Even today, I still listen to some of his speeches in awe at how he communicated to a nation in a way that made everyone feel like he was your own grandfather talking directly to you. Sadly, President Reagan died as a shell of the man he had once been. I was proud when Nancy refused to let the public see him toward the end. That protection of the man, protected the image that America needs to hold onto today.
Ironically, the late 1800’s and early 1900’s had Lincoln’s image to hold onto when they thought of great presidents. The mid 1900’s had the image of Teddy Roosevelt to hold onto. The 1960’s and the 1970’s had the image of Ike to hold onto. Now, the last years of the 1900’s and the early part of our new century has the image of President Reagan to hold onto (yes, I know they are all Republicans, what did you expect at a GOP page?). As we dive into this new century, already ten years in, let’s hold onto those images and memories of President Reagan. It is very likely that our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grand children will someday ask us not only “What was Reagan like,” but as we go into these difficult times, they will likely ask the more important question, “What would President Reagan do?”
Now, with respect to President Reagan, I think he can best close this article today:
“In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.” ~ President Ronald Reagan (from Reagan’s final letter)