Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Gift of Ronald Reagan

We are fast approaching the 25 year anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. On January 20, 1981 Ronald Reagan took the oath of office and assumed the responsibility for leading the greatest nation on earth. I was just about 10 years old and little did I realize how much of an influence this man would have on my political development.

Politics was a mainstay of conversations at my family gatherings. The nightly news was watched every night as if it were a religious event not to be missed. Whether it was an inherited interest in politics or whether it was a desire to emulate my family elders I do not know, but whatever the reason I paid attention to the news and the political discussions. For that reason, even though very young when Reagan took office, I remember a great deal about that period of time.

The controversy that stands out is of course the American hostage crisis. Listening to two grandfathers tell stories about their service during World War II and being a huge fan of what some would call propaganda films starring John Wayne and others, I could not for the life of me understand how we could let this third world country hold our people prisoner. The longer the crisis continued the more my beliefs about our nation’s greatness diminished. Then along came Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan was a man that talked about the great spirit and potential of our nation and the American people. A man that promised to do something about the hostage situation in Iran. He promised to lead this country back to being the envy of the world. That was good enough for me. Even though my parents were ardent supporters of Jimmy Carter secretly I was pulling for Ronald Reagan. In the eight years that followed Reagan’s victory I came of age politically. During that time I certainly had ample opportunity to hear the arguments against Reagan’s policies from a Democrat’s point of view, but in the end I simply identified more with Reagan’s vision of America.

Reagan brought back my early concept of America’s greatness by exuding the spirit of those old patriotic “propaganda” films of his early days. He eradicated the perception of weakness that had been lingering over the country since the end of the Vietnam War. He made us strong both militarily and economically. He brought back the belief in the American dream. In eight years Ronald Reagan brought this nation back to superpower status and leader of the free world. Reagan was the right person at the right time for a country that was moving perilously in the wrong direction.

If Ronald Reagan is not the father of modern conservatism he is certainly its champion and his accolades could go on for many pages. Ronald Reagan gave this country many gifts. The most praiseworthy was that it was not his own greatness that he believed in, it was the greatness of the American people. He not only believed in it but he made the American people believe in it.

And in all of that time I won a nickname, "The Great Communicator." But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation — from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense...

...We've done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger. We made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all...

Please go check out Mike's America for more Ronald Reagan tributes.

Linked at Stop the ACLU

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