Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence Day: Remembering Ronald Reagan

When Reagan was elected president in 1980, I was overjoyed. I remembered (and remember) his remarkable speech in 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater. My expectations for Reagan were extremely high. I expected (hoped?) he would repair a badly damaged economy -- and to take extraordinary steps to do so. I didn't expect him to end the Cold War, which looked as if it would go on forever, but I had high hopes that he at least begin the process of ending what he called the "evil empire." He did a lot more than that.

I also knew that his optimism and love of America (and its people, who are not always lovable) would be a great tonic for our native land. When Reagan appeared at the Olympics, people started chanting "USA, USA!" He had become synonymous with America. He was a staunch adherent to what historians call "American exceptionalism," the belief (one that is true) which recognizes that America is "not just another nation."

The liberals at the time claimed Reagan would be a "war-monger," which was the reverse of the truth. However, as a child of WW II, he did understand the truth of Senator Pat Moynihan's assertion: "You must remember that we are a warrior nation." In my heart, I also know that RR knew the truth of Gen. Lee's statement after the battle of Fredericksburg: "It is a good thing war is so terrible, else we should love it too much."

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