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June 05, 2004
Ronald W. Reagan, 1911-2004

I grew up in California; Ronald Reagan was the first governor I remember.

Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence. (January 7, 1970)
Heaven help us if government ever gets into the business of protecting us from ourselves. (April 12, 1973)
All who have led California since are but pale shadows of his greatness.

My formative years were years when America seemed to be on the decline. While I was in elementary school, the Vietnam War raged. As I began junior high school, a president was forced from office, and his successor had to deal with crisis after crisis. During my high school years, Carter was in the White House, the economy was in shambles, the military was falling apart, and there seemed to be no hope of improvement. The Soviet empire was expanding unchecked.

There was little good news about anything, from anywhere.

Then came Ronald Reagan, and all that changed. All of it.

I caught my first hint of optimism as a freshman at Wheaton College. The campaign leading up to the 1980 presidential election, the first in which I was eligible to vote, had caught my attention because of my former governor's candidacy.

Then he made a campaign stop and speech at my small midwestern college.

What is it that Americans truly want, for themselves and for their country? . . . All we want is to live in freedom and in peace, to see to it that our nation's legitimate interests are protected and promoted. We want to see our children have at least the opportunities we had for advancement or maybe even better.

We want to worship God in our own way, lead our own lives, take care of our families and live in our own style, in our own community, without hurting anyone or anyone hurting us. We want the kind of personal security human beings can reasonably expect in a system of economic freedom and democratic self-government. And, yes, we want to bring the blessings of peace and progress and freedom to others. (October 8, 1980)

I was hooked.

On the occasion of his birthday this year, I recalled my encounter with Mr. Reagan on that day he came to our college. I deeply regret that I have no photo of that moment. My parents met him a decade later, and did get a photo.

I recall Mr. Reagan's election and inauguration as a time of ever increasing optimism. We had a man in the White House who was clearly determined to shake off the malaise of the previous years and to stiffen the spine of American resolve in the face of the greatest threat we had ever faced.

We cannot escape our destiny nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. (Jan 25, 1974)
No weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. (First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981)
The other day, someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people's democracy. It is the same difference between a jacket and a straight-jacket. (December 10, 1986)
Our cause is still, as it was then, the cause of human freedom. (Jan 30, 1986)
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! (June, 1987)

It wasn't only in matters of defense and foreign relations that Ronald Reagan encouraged Americans. When he took office, the economy was in tatters. I well remember working part time in a bank when I was in high school, and seeing interest rates in the teens and even low twenties. Unemployment was in the double-digits. Gold was selling for over $800 an ounce.

Reagan took office and, with the help of a rightward-shifted congress that followed on his coattails, began his program of economic reforms.

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing. (October 27, 1964)
Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp. (October 27, 1964)
We believe that liberty can be measured by how much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions - even their own mistakes. (Feb 7, 1977)
The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much. (Frequent saying.)
For many years now we have preached 'the gospel,' in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism. (March 1, 1975)
Every dollar spent by government is a dollar earned by individuals. Government must always ask: Are your dollars being wisely spent? Can we afford it? Is it not better for the country to leave your dollars in your pocket? (Feb 7, 1977)

Always, always, always his theme -- and his dream -- was Freedom.

We should never forget that, and always try to live up to his ideal of an America that stands as "a shining city on a hill," a beacon of freedom to people around the world.

When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.
We have every right to dream heroic dreams.

Farewell, Ronald Reagan

Posted by Russ at 09:57 PM, June 5, 2004 in History & News & Personal Stuff

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Ronald Reagan 1911-2004 from Blogs for Bush
Long live the Gipper. Feel free to post your thoughts and prayers here.... [Read More]

Tracked on June 5, 2004 10:59 PM

Cold Coffee & Hot Blogs from Right Wingin-It, The Pudgy Pundit
This Sunday morning, I looked out my office window to an almost perfect Minnesota daybreak and thought to myself "Can it be a better day?" It almost stopped me right in mid thought as the reality sort of soaked in,... [Read More]

Tracked on June 6, 2004 10:00 AM

Cold Coffee & Hot Blogs from Right Wingin-It, The Pudgy Pundit
This Sunday morning, I looked out my office window to an almost perfect Minnesota daybreak and thought to myself "Can it be a better day?" It almost stopped me right in mid thought as the reality sort of soaked in,... [Read More]

Tracked on June 6, 2004 10:00 AM

Carnival for the Gipper from Blogs for Bush
This is a special edition of the Carnival of the Bush Bloggers we're calling the Carnival For The Gipper. We all felt the loss of Ronald Reagan, and were moved by the memorial services in his honor. This past... [Read More]

Tracked on June 14, 2004 12:11 PM


Godspeed, Mr. President. You will be missed.

Posted by: Scott at June 7, 2004 06:56 PM

Great piece of work, Russ. Thanks.

Posted by: Jim - Parkway Rest Stop at June 7, 2004 10:32 PM

Russ, one of the few Reagan memories I have is of talking to my parents while I was working in Korea. They were in tears about Reagan's disastrous ascent to the White House, sure to their very souls he would destroy all that is good and valuable in America...

I didn't know the man, but I thought my folks were a bit overboard, and suggested they unlax a bit...

"...pilgrims, hurtling through the darkness toward the light..." Sir! Yes, Sir!

Posted by: Carridine at June 9, 2004 11:05 AM

Reagan one of grate persident for U.S.A. He wood this a grate man.

Posted by: Ruben Garcia at June 19, 2004 12:39 PM