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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Ronald Wilson Reagan

The first president I ever knew was Ronald Reagan, so his death today and the accompanying media coverage held my interest for most of the day. I don't know where I place him on the list of great presidents, but he certainly had some admirable qualities - the eloquence, the charm, the humor, and the ability to get Americans to believe in their country. I've recently read some about Watergate, and am currently reading David Gergen's Eyewitness to Power, and am gaining a better understanding of those times and how Americans had lost faith in their leaders. Reagan's stability and longevity in office helped restore confidence in the system, even for those who didn't believe in his policies.

I expected to spend most of the day watching D-Day specials. I remember the 50th anniversary of D-Day, but with this, the 60th anniversary, and the recent dedication of the World War II Memorial, I'm enjoying the focus we seem to be placing on those WWII vets still with us, along with the stories of battles past. We're losing our WWII vets at a rate of over 1,000 per day, and losing Ronald Reagan at this time of reflection seems fitting.

I'll remember this about President Reagan - how he handled the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger and it's crew (my first memory of a national disaster), the summits with Gorbachev and their work to end the arms race, and stupid late-night conversations with my college roommates about the end of the Cold War. Darren said it was because of President Reagan; Chris said it was because of Rocky IV. Okay, so we weren't exactly Meet the Press material...

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