Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Remembering Reagan

Hello Kari:

Thanks for the invitation to join you and yours at the reception. It was a wonderful occasion to celebrate love and life.

Indeed, the entire weekend was about that as the 60th anniversary remembrances of D-Day were occurring in France. And then, of course, there was the recollections of President Reagan.

As you have seen in the news, the public outpouring of affection for Reagan here in Southern California has been enormous. I had thought about making the trip to Moorpark College to catch the shuttle bus to the Presidential Library. However, I heard the reports that traffic near Moorpark was jammed and was taking hours to cover the final few miles and then the wait for the buses was also taking many hours.

After the national ceremonies in Washington DC on Friday, Reagan will be interred in a private ceremony at the Library. I'm sure for several weeks after that, visitations to the library will be high. I'll make the trip there at some point to pay my respects to one of the giants of the 20th Century.

Being a few years older than you, I did indeed cast my first presidential ballot for Reagan's re-election in 1984. At the time, I was an registered independent and was somewhat of a swing voter. In the years following, my views would shift toward center-right conservative with a sprinkle of libertarianism partly because of Reagan.

Here is a list of 10 memories piggybacking on some of yours and tossing in a few other ones.

1. I too watched the first space shuttle launch. In the West Coast, the coverage started quite early in the morning! The launches became routine and the morning of the Challenger launch, it was just a little bit on the radio... there was a delay due to some issue or another as I headed out the door for school. My friends and I were on the road and had a top 40 pop station on the radio. As we approached UCLA, the DJ broke from the usual music playlist to give reports on what happened. Reagan's short speech that night allowed us to mourn, remember and hope.

2. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" I've visited the Reagan library once and a piece of that Wall is there. Reagan had a unflagging vision of what was right.

3. "These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war."

4. The bear in the forest ad of 1984... some people don't believe there is a bear in the forest or that it isn't dangerous but doesn't it make sense to be stronger than the bear? As you might guess as a college student I got a steady diet of protestors calling for a nuclear freeze and for no Pershing missiles into Europe and deriding Reagan as a cowboy who wanted war.

5. News of the assassination attempt circulated in our high school all day long and when I got home I was glued to the television news. It was a scary time but as the years have past, what I now remember more was Reagan's humor through it all. To the doctors at George Washington's ER: I hope you are all Republicans. And to Nancy: Honey, I forgot to duck.

6. Reagan to Mondale: I will not take advantage of my opponent's youth and inexperience.

7. Election night 1980. The polling data was showing a move to Reagan over the weekend but it was still close. It turned into a tidal wave with gains in the House and the GOP taking the Senate.

8. Election night 1984. 49 states!

9. It may be somewhat of a historical footnote but on Reagan's watch there was the invasion of Grenada. At the time, it seemed to confirm the worst fears of Reagan's critics. However, as time went by and more details came forth, it was obvious the island was turning into a communist military base.

10. "Well, ... "

Take care,
Rene

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