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Remembering Reagan

by Amy Zidell
06.09.04

I am struck by the immense outpouring of legacy-speak across the board, across all news networks, remembering President Ronald Reagan. It would seem that even in death Ronald Reagan is a unifier. President Reagan's legacy is truly deserved.

Across generations, whether they be "me", "boomers," "sandwich," or even, "x'ers," President Reagan engenders a range of deep personal and meaningful feelings. Depending on the generation, he may reflect an image of father, brother, buddy, or grandfather. Reagan's two terms dominated an entire decade. Chronology alone makes his terms in office an imprint for nearly ever adult.

I will always remember the first time I voted. It was 1984, I was 18, and was excited that my first opportunity to cast a vote would be in a presidential election. I cleanly and proudly punched the chad through for Ronald Reagan. I was not only a proud young republican, I was a proud American. Such feelings of American pride may truly be Reagan's greatest legacy.

He recalls a time when no one suggested we should apologize for being a great nation or for promoting democracy, or practicing capitalism, or enjoying freedom. We were not encouraged to stifle our celebration of being American. American Olympic athletes were not scolded to be quiet in celebrations of potential wins. Political correctness, (which is not), had not yet infected popular culture. This time of Reagan's passing presents an opportunity for those politicizing patriotism and ridiculing it to pick another target so that all Americans can freely celebrate the greatness of our country again.

Reagan's legacy reminds us of a time it was not even contemplated that we understand why our nation's enemies did not wish us well. It was not suggested that we make an effort to particularly understand communist culture, for example. An enemy to freedom and democracy was an enemy to the United States plain and simple.

While no time is in fact simple, his ability to reflect an emotive attitude for the country with such flair and ease, and encapsulate policies so succinctly should be remembered as a unique skill and not confused with casualness.

Every person makes an impact on the world even if it may seem imperceptible. Every person has an opportunity to make that impact positive. Some special people will be fortunate enough to make significant and overwhelmingly beneficial differences to the world. Ronald Reagan was one of these rare gems.

History books will certainly detail the historical geopolitical accomplishments of the Reagan presidency. Ronald Reagan has no doubt left an indelible mark on the world. Beyond the political is the equally important emotional legacy that perhaps is what truly makes a former president a great president, and turns mere presidential history, into a lasting legacy.

Ronald Reagan's legacy is and will be enduring. Even his passing is day by day creating iconic moments. Nancy Reagan's solo wave just before boarding the plane carrying the former President and his family to Washington D.C. reflected the perfect summary: A goodbye to a great man, a glimpse to the past, a step moving on to the future with a love as enduring as the legacy itself.

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