Ronald Reagan remembered
Our nation suffered a great loss with the passing of our 40th President, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Although we have known for years that the day of his passing would come, no amount of foreknowledge could’ve prepared us for the impact of the event.
When the news broke on the afternoon of Saturday, June 5, 2004, all else took pause. We were forced to stop and think for a moment about our own mortality, and about both the brevity and splendor of life.
Back in 1994, when President Reagan was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he addressed our nation with a public letter. This effort illustrated the intent of the “Great Communicator” to keep his public informed and on the same page with him at all times. In his battle with this affliction, he saw himself as the leader the electorate had chosen in two separate and successive contests, and as a common citizen. He made us aware of his fate while assuring us that the same would never befall America, which he called a “shining city upon a hill.” It was vastly important to President Reagan to make this distinction, and to reinforce our hope in a time of seeming futility.
On Tuesday, June 8, I was able to travel to Simi Valley to pay my last respects to President Reagan. Upon arriving, I was moved by the number of citizens that had come to do the same. A true patriot loved by those of all stripes, he was possessed by indomitable charisma and undaunted courage. Even his political opponents understand that. This was a man whose life touched many others in many ways. For that he will be forever remembered and revered.
Amidst the intensity of the past week’s events and the president’s services, it is important that we see this event as cause not only for mourning of a great life lost, but also for celebration of a wonderful life lived. Though our days on this earth are finite, the only limits on what we may do with that time are the ones we impose. The inevitability of change is brought into sharp focus by events both blissful and tragic, and through it all it is crucial that we do not let our vision become hazy, or lose sight of what is really important. As Benjamin Franklin once said “When you finish changing, you’re finished.”
And so it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to this gallant individual who meant so much to so many of us. In many ways, though, this is not a goodbye. We as a nation are now sending off one of our most venerated into the arms of the Lord and the eternal peace and rest he offers.
President Reagan labored his whole life for us, and the fruits of his toils will be forever remembered. We have him to thank for our national security, economic prosperity and the hope and faith we feel for this great nation we call America. As he assured us ten years ago, “I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”
Farewell, Mr. President.
State Senator, Alta Sierra
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