...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

June 07, 2004

Ronald W. Reagan, My Tribute

RR 12-07-88.jpg

My first memory of President Reagan is from November 1984. i was seven. My father asked me to take a walk down the block with him. We went into a neighbor's garage where there were little booths set up. People went into the booths and pulled a curtain behind them. i stood in line with my dad as he gave his name to a lady who handed him a card. Then my dad took me into the booth with him to watch him cast his vote for president of the United States.

It's fitting that my first introduction to democracy was watching my dad vote for Ronald Reagan.

Another formative experience of my life was the tragedy of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. Like many children, i watched the launch on television with my class. It was horrifying. i'll never forget how President Reagan spoke afterwards, directly to us young people, sharing our pain and somehow giving us a way to understand that traumatic loss.

I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.
With those words, President Reagan showed me that courage comes with its own cost. Just as he did with his address on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day, which i've heard again this weekend. And later, when i could understand with the hindsight of a history student, Ronald Reagan showed me the meaning of steadfast courage in the face of incredible opposition - when he led Democracy to victory over the forces of Communist dictatorship.

That last victory, his greatest, was not easy. And it was not certain. Reagan didn't stumble his way into it either. Victory in the Cold War was the almost uniquely held vision of this one great man. He alone among the post war presidents had the courage to say: "Let's win this thing. We can win this thing." When Nixon and Carter were trying to figure out how to co-exist with the Communists, when Ford was denying the Soviet domination of Europe, Reagan alone seemed to know that we would win, because we were better.

And he got us to believe it too. And we did win. Despite all the nay-sayers (funded from behind the iron curtain, by the way) who were shouting "nuclear freeze," Reagan rolled back the nukes, doing it from a position of strength and leaving our nation infinitely safer than if he had listened to the peaceniks. And when the left shook their heads after Reykjavik, saying we had blown our chance for peace, Reagan, by his courageous stand on principle, led us to the lasting peace that only victory could win.

i've been weepy all weekend. i, too, loved Ronald Reagan. i'm proud to have been alive while he was president. i'm proud that i'm a Californian, a Republican, an American, and he's a large part of those things. i've heard it said, and i fully agree, that if Ronald Reagan were president today, he'd know exactly what to do. i wish that were possible. But in a way, i'm glad he didn't realize how much trouble we've gotten into since we lost the blessing of his stewardship. He would have been deeply disappointed.

Or, perhaps i'm wrong about that. Ronald Reagan was an eternal optimist. And one of the great things about all the tributes of the past few days has been the long overdue recognition of his optimism. We should honor his optimism, by remembering it, and re-igniting it. What President Reagan said at the 1992 Republican Convention has been quoted often in the last few days, but i don't think it can be repeated often enough.

Well I've said it before and I'll say it again -- America's best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead. America remains what Emerson called her 150 years ago, 'the country of tomorrow.' What a wonderful description and how true. And yet tomorrow might never have happened had we lacked the courage in the 1980's to chart a course of strength and honor.
God Bless you, Ronald Reagan.

Recommended on topic: The Maximum Leader meets the President.

Also Recommended: Lileks, as always. Professor Hugh looks at the Democratic spin attempts. And Daniel Weintraub spins the President as a liberal.

Posted by annika, Jun. 7, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry



Posted by: Casca on Jun. 7, 2004

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Posted by: Um Yeah on Jun. 8, 2004

Cuba. Therapy. Spellchecker. In reverse order.


Posted by: Lesmorte on Jun. 8, 2004

This is the best writing on Reagan that I have seen yet in blogs or in the mainstream media.

Posted by: ginger on Jun. 8, 2004

how dare you make me cry so early in the day with such a heart warming post.


Posted by: missie on Jun. 8, 2004

"Good night, sweet prince."

Extremely well put, Annika.

Posted by: Jason O. on Jun. 8, 2004

Well put Annika. Very well put. (And thanks for the link.) Although some have lamented the abundance of Reagan eulogies on the internet, I for one, think they are great. He would be very touched to read them all.

Posted by: The Maximum Leader on Jun. 8, 2004

Annika, this is one of the best posts I've read. Thank you.

Posted by: Anna on Jun. 9, 2004

thank you annika-

mainly from your past writings about Reagan, I have been promted to pick up one of his latest books "Reagan in his own hand". He truly was a visionsary.

eg. "..our current tax system is simply a way of transferring wealth from the most productive members of society to the least"

Posted by: jimi on Jun. 12, 2004