RONALD REAGAN: HONORING THE NAME
Some gasped, some tittered, and some guffawed, when a young man opened the door and announced, “Reagan has been shot!” I remember the breath escaping mylungs and the sinews in my body turning to steel. I was silent, and regarded, through a disassociative veil, the peals of laughter that rang through the classroom. The glib contempt that skulked the aisles in Mr. Adams’ Theater History class shocked me. The President of the United States has been assassinated and these guys think it’s funny. Have they no idea of the danger that this kind of national chaos presents? Don’t they realize that there are enemy superpowers that will celebrate the death of President Reagan? I was sad, near grief, but reflective. Even as a sophomore in a Liberal Arts college, studying theater, I understood that the assassination of a President, even a hated one, in a time of peak nuclear tensions was cause for great alarm.
Of course I did not know until several minutes later that Ronald Reagan was not dead. The same student again poked his head in the room and proclaimed, “He’s not dead, he’s only been shot.” Still, the Liberal boobs in the room inserted their vapid commentary; “Too bad,” “He’s so old maybe he’ll die anyway,” “Reagan sucks!” Though speechless I boiled with the thought “you idiots.” I stand by that judgment to this day. Those collegiate, liberal, theater students, on that date, March 30 ,1981, were imbeciles. If perchance they’ve put on some years, enlarged their frontal cortexes, and become sensible Conservatives, then perhaps I will forgive.
That memory takes me back to another, earlier recollection; my very first vote. Less than a decade earlier the voting age had been lowered to 18. I remember kneeling next to my dorm bed in October of 1980 and unfolding the absentee ballot. I had anticipated this moment and I savored penciling in the oval next to Ronald Reagan’s name. I scarcely remember who was down ballot from him, but there was a peace and conviction that my vote was unequivocally right. I was a student of the arts, and a campy style sometimes belied my Conservative heart. During those formative years, when nuclear holocaust backlit the political landscape, and flashes of light, mushroom clouds, and sudden extinction stalked the dreams of many, I came to laud the man who represented the strength and goodness of the United States of America, “the last, best hope of man on earth.”
Some say the “Reagan Revolution” began on October 27, 1964, when Ronald Reagan gave a speech in Texas on behalf of Barry Goldwater, entitled “A Time for Choosing.” The Reagan Revolution was the Conservative Revolution in American. Thinkers such as Edmund Burke, had been shaping Conservative philosophy for centuries. But it was Goldwater, Reagan, William F. Buckley, and others who ignited the fire of the Conservative revolution. Conservatism was not new, but it was pushing its way into the forefront of American politics out of necessity. Simple left/right, Democrat/Republican politics were no longer sufficient to hold together the fabric of meritorious liberty. As government became increasingly massive and unattached to the Constitution, and as individuals became estranged from God and His commandments, a new political sensibility was needed; one that filled moral voids and embraced the rule of law over the passions of men. Conservatism became a critical doctrine in a culture where religious institutions were losing their importance and moral ambiguity abounded. As the population sought equilibrium in a time of topsy-turvy values and the rejection of traditional norms, Conservatism was the secular voice through which fairness, freedom, equal rights, human agency, self-sufficiency, self-governance, limited government, and all righteous tenets were reasserted. Ronald Reagan, and the voice he gave to Conservative principles, were made for a time of political and spiritual upheaval such as 1964.
I took the name “ReaganGirl” at the suggestion of a friend. I had published a picture on a social networking site of me wearing a “Reagan for President” T-shirt. The friend thought I would make a nice counterpoint to “ObamaGirl”, the YouTube sensation of 2008. Although I failed to come up with an appropriate “I’ve got a crush on Reagan,” ditty, I did devise for myself an outlet in the form of an opinion blog. ReaganGirl.com made sense, and the domain name was available, so I took it. It is a serious undertaking, however, to take upon oneself the name of another. Wives take the names of their husbands as a gesture of life-changing devotion. Christians take upon themselves the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ. I take upon myself the name of Christ as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; a Mormon. I take the name of Ronald Reagan as an enthusiast, and to establish a context for my opinions on this blog. It is no small responsibility, nor honor. I am a Christian in the most ardent sense, Jesus Christ and His Gospel are central to my faith as well as the underpinnings of my secular world view. In truth, I have no wholly secular estimation of anything. To me, one who has taken the name of her God, all things are one, woven together in a tapestry of physical, metaphysical, temporal, and eternal experience. I am also a student of Ronald Reagan, and an admirer. And in taking the name of Reagan, I align myself to his leadership, his character, and his humanity.
It is a testament to the goodness and greatness of America and the man who, in the 20th century, best embodied the genius of “We The People”, that many countries, other than the United States, are commemorating Ronald Reagan’s centenniel. There are celebrations planned throughout Europe well into the summer of 2011. Many credit Reagan as being the president who saved the United States from post-Carter economic disaster. Some applaud him as the president who ended the Cold War with firing nary a shot. And, indeed, he is both. But Ronald Reagan’s true significance lies in his unapologetic belief in God, and that America is a country of Divine inception and destiny, that all people are Children of God; born free that they may live free, and that liberty is worth the greatest price. The power of the Reagan legacy lies in its synthesis of faith, history, righteousness, optimism, humor, determination, sacrifice and the love of liberty. That is why I take upon myself the name of Reagan. His speeches, comments, asides, and jokes have been closely chronicled. People love to read Reagan because he spoke the truth, about himself, about the world, about history; the good and the bad, and about his, and our, dependence upon a Power greater than man, weapons, superpowers, or America. I will let his words speak for him.
Ronald Reagan was bold in his assertion that religion and God are essential to a free nation.
“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
“Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.”
“Without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.”
“We are never defeated unless we give up on God.”
He understood deeply the blood lineage of a liberated people, and of how generations must be linked together in the commitment to remain free.
His humor was mostly self-effacing, but always had big government in the crosshairs.
He was, at his core, humble, lovable, gracious and kind.
Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Ronald Reagan’s farewell address
Ronald Reagan speaks out against socialized medicine
Ronald Reagan without a teleprompter. Reagan/Carter debate
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