As we celebrate the centennial of a great man who was both graceful and gallant, I’ve been watching some of the memorial tributes offered on the DVD, Ronald Reagan: An American President, I had the chance to watch once again former Vice President Cheney’s tribute to the Gipper.
That fine man truly got the essence of the nation’s fortieth president:
“From my mother,” said President Reagan, “I learned the value of prayer. My mother told me that everything in life happened for a purpose. She said all things were part of God’s plan, even the most disheartening setbacks. And, in the end, everything worked out for the best.”
This was the Ronald Reagan who had faith, not just in his own gifts and his own future, but in the possibilities of every life. The cheerful spirit that carried him forward was more than a disposition; it was the optimism of a faithful soul who trusted in God’s purposes and knew those purposes to be right and true.
He once said “There’s no question, I am an idealist,” which is another way of saying, “I am an American.”
We usually associate that quality with youth, and yet one of the most idealistic men ever to become president was also the oldest. He excelled in professions that have left many others jaded and self- satisfied, and yet somehow remained untouched by the worst influences of fame or power.
If Ronald Reagan ever uttered a cynical or a cruel or a selfish word, the moment went unrecorded. Those who knew him in his youth and those who knew him a lifetime later all remember his largeness of spirit, his gentle instincts and a quiet rectitude that drew others to him. . . .
For decades, American had waged a Cold War and few believed it could possibly end in our own lifetimes. The president was one of those few. And it was the vision and the will of Ronald Reagan that gave hope to the oppressed, shamed the oppressors and ended an evil empire.