GREATNESS IS BORN--RONALD WILSON REAGAN, FEB 6, 1911
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on this day, February 6, 1911, at 111 South Main Street, Tampico, Illinois. His birth took place in a second floor flat above the Pitney General Store. Morton Grove's John Ruberry traveled there one day and blogged about the experience. Also, Andrea Shea King has a wonderful video tribute to our 40th president along with a note to Mrs. Reagan: To Nancy, With Love.
Reagan is 99 today. I say "is" because in my mind Reagan is alive and well, always will be too. In my writings and conversations, I often refer to him. There's much to be said about a man of his ability, his sheer strength of will, determination and passion for this the greatest of nations. Not for one moment did Reagan ever let us forget the greatness of our nation, especially during the worst of times. He reminded us on more than one occasion that no matter the challenge before us, we as a nation could and would overcome. And we did.
Although he wasn't one of our nation's founding fathers, he was, without argument, one of our nation's re-founders. Upon entering the White House, he was of an age (69) when most are retired, or considering retirement. Not Reagan. He met our problems--and there were plenty of them--head-on, rolled up his sleeves and began working toward solutions on that long list of what ailed our floundering nation.
Before Reagan became president, Jimmy Carter was our nation's progressive leader. I was in my early twenties, fresh out of the army, in college, and followed Reagan day-by-day. And with each day I got more and more excited with the possibility of him taking back the House at 1600. To be honest, during the late '70's I was nearly embarrassed to be an American. I should never say such a thing but it was true. If you didn't live through the Carter years, you can't possibly understand my feelings.
But our greatest dream came true in November 1980. And at 12 noon, January 20, 1981, the celebration began--it was as if WWII had ended all over again. By 12:30, the oath of office was complete. Reagan, at this point, had done nothing as president, but our spirits were lifted to heights not known for quite some time. Life was good. Very good.
Reagan had a remarkable two-term presidency, and many of the benefits crafted by his administration weren't realized until after he had left office. However, we all knew why and how those accomplishments came about. As with any presidency, his too had its problems. But he was upfront and honest about them, and the American public knew and understood this. After all, Reagan, like all of us, was human.
HIS TEAMMATE AND LOVE OF HIS LIFE:
Ronald Wilson Reagan would never have become one of our greatest presidents without his teammate, the love of his life, Nancy Reagan. Whether it was in Sacramento or Washington DC, he didn't have a more ardent, supportive or protective person in his corner. Ronald Reagan was an outside-the-beltway kind of man. A politician, yes, but without Nancy at his side, he probably would've been just another actor and conservative speaker of the era. Not governor, not president.
Surrounding him, Ronald Reagan had some of the smartest, hardest working advisers. All tasked with crafting policies, speeches and events for him to attend. But not a one of them had half the sense Mrs Reagan had when it came to what was best for her man. Without a doubt, Nancy Reagan knew what was best for her husband--and she had no problem making it known. And don't think for a moment that those advisers weren't from time-to-time looking over their shoulders with an eye toward the First Lady as they put together some sort of policy or event for the president.
Mrs Reagan had more than one run-in with her husband's advisers, some are legendary. She usually came out on top too. Why? Because she knew what was best and she was determined to protect the man who lead our nation, the man she loved more than anything in life. The same man we loved and admired.
Our First Lady, Nancy Reagan, brought much to our White House. Just her name alone brings to mind words like class, style, beauty and loyalty. She brought all this to our House, and then some. She not only made our White House a thing of beauty, something to behold, to be proud of, to treasure, but she made our president look as grand as our president should look.
Just as President Reagan made us feel good about our nation, Nancy Reagan gave us a sense of comfort in knowing Ronald Reagan was well looked after. In his declining years, when he was no longer able to venture into the public's eye, Nancy Reagan made sure our re-founding president--one of history's greatest--was in the best of hands, being cared for every minute of the day, seeing that all his needs and comforts were met. As sad as I was about his illness, I took some comfort in knowing she was there for him. In a way, we were all there for him.
So, Mr. President, I salute you on your 99th birthday. I will always pray for you. I will always recall your words. And because of your words I will always have a keen sense of our nation's greatness and the possibilities it provides to us and the world.
And to Nancy Reagan, our Finest First Lady, I pray for you as well. I can't begin to thank you for all you've done, not just for our nation but for Ronald Wilson Reagan. I hope your days are filled with nothing but the goodness that life provides for us. God Bless You.