A chapter of 2004 has now closed. At the end of year, during all the perspectives, certainly the funeral for former President ReaganÂ (1911-2004) will be one of the most noted items, and for several good reasons.
For one thing, Americans nowadays so rarely come together for anything, that we need events like this big public funeral to take just a short time to quite our lives just a little, and hopefully dampen the political rhetoric some. I have to admire the Reagan family for being willing to share this most personal moment in such a public way. That has to be a very difficult thing.
As was typical of anything that involved Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, it came off with a lot of class. Perhaps that’s one of the things that has made Ronald Reagan so appealing from an historical perspective.
Let’s face it, the U.S. really was no longer a proud nation when Reagan came into office in 1981. We were still licking our wounds from Vietnam and coming from the unrest and consternation of the 1960’s.
I need to preface all these comments with the disclaimer that I can’t find much in Ronald Reagan’s policies that I can agree with, but I do have respect for him as one of the last of an unfortunately dying breed. He was a “regal” person. He knew how to wear the office. What I mean by that is, he found that mix of being almost princely, while still being able to touch and communicate with the common people. He made sure the office was always seen in the best possible light. As noted above, he was a class act.
He really did treat political opponents with respect, and this seems to be the end of the time when people could disagree on political issues, but be friends after the offices closed.
I am convinced that Ronald Reagan was genuine in his patriotism. I think he really did believe in America and its people and the ideals of our founding fathers. And at a time when patriotism was unfashionable, he was unashamedly patriotic. I admire that. I think Reagan genuinely meant it when he said, “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.”
I also believe that, even though I can’t agree with most of his positions and policies, he truly believed in them, and believed they were the best course for the country. I think he really did try to do his best, and failed only when other people with less noble motives were involved. Even then, Reagan didn’t do too badly at owning up to the situation and taking responsibility, as in the Iran-Contra Scandal.
Clearly, he and Nancy Reagan were as completely in love as two people can be. She protected and cared for him in many ways. We laughed at some of the ways. Our cynicism lead us to just not believe it sometimes, but at the end of the day, she stuck it out to a very bitter and sad end, and then shared her husband with us all once again.
Reagan did help end communism as a major threat, and he did help restore some belief in the high ideals of America. So, as they say today, I give him “props.”
He was, in his heart, a good and decent man, who really did try to do his best. As Lady Margaret Thatcher said in her tribute, “Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles — and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly, he acted upon them decisively.”
So what, if anything, will cause him to be viewed by history as “great?”