Happy Birthday, Gipper

Lamps, originally uploaded by gopre_gome.

I was a little girl when Ronald Reagan took office. I remember him to be tall, handsome, and friendly. The image projected from my grandparents’ humongous cabinet TV was one of a man very much like all the other males in my family; I thought he was another uncle. When the 4th of July or Thanksgiving rolled around, I was disappointed when Mr. President was too busy to come for dinner. I never spoke of this because I was afraid of being laughed at or patronized, but I secretly held tiny candles for Ronald Reagan.

I knew nothing of his politics. His economic policies were not even on my radar. I knew that my paternal family liked him, my maternal family did not, and the teachers at school only talked about presidents after they were dead. Walter Kronkite said his name with lemons in his mouth. To my young, romantic brain, Ronald Reagan was a hero, someone who travelled the world in pursuit of Goodness. I did not know of his age or his forgetfulness. I watched the Iran/Contra hearings feeling very protective of COL North, but I didn’t know why.

Today, I have a little better grasp of history, of the prism in which Reagan and Republican politics are viewed. I read “the Reagan Diaries” and when the book was over, I still felt a connection, a sadness.
Ronald Reagan was not perfect, nor did he try to be. He just held an insatiable optimism, a love of this country that cannot be denied. Not every one appreciates the manner in which he executed his tenure, but all presidents have their detractors, their mistakes, their failings. The thing is…well…Reagan tried his best. I’ve never run for President, never been in the position to send (or not) young men to their deaths with intelligence that is only hopefully complete.

The office of the President of the United States, although lofty, is held very personally in the heart of all Americans. I think this is the origin of vehement arguments on all sides of politics. We send a person to Do Good on Our Behalf to the world. We want to Be Good. I think Reagan was Good.

Uncle Ronnie never showed up for dinner and when he died I sobbed more for him than my own Grandfather. Today he would be 100 years old and he’d probably tell us some dumb joke about denture cream and his Nancy. :). I miss Ronald Reagan and I weep for those who will never have the memory or knowledge that a truly Great Man once roamed the hallowed halls of our collective imaginations, doing his best…and smiling at us all.

“Reagan is My HomeBoy”

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