"You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down."
-- Ronald Reagan from "A Time for Choosing" October 27, 1964 (video, text)
Today is a great day to reflect on what great things are possible when a President with true leadership and sound vision sits in the White House! I hope readers will indulge some personal memories.
My three favorite Reagan photos:
I took the above on October 12, 1984 when President Reagan took one of the last "Whistlestop" train tours through Ohio. Somehow, the bus tours of today just don't have the same feel as the classic whistlestop using the Ferdinand Magellan, or Car One. Train buffs may find the history of the Ferdinand Magellan here.
The speech (sixth item here) was classic Reagan and it's themes are just as valid today. Change the name Mondale to Obama and you'll see what I mean in this excerpt:
My opponent, Mr. Mondale, offers a future of pessimism, fear, and limits, compared to ours of hope, confidence, and growth. Now, I know that his intentions are good, and I know that he's sincere in what he believes. But he sees government as an end in itself, and we see government as belonging to you, the people, and only a junior partner in your lives.Reagan and Thatcher at the White House
I took the following as President Reagan welcomed British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to the White House on the last State Visit of his presidency Nov. 16, 1988. I describe that event and more of my White House memories in "A Salute to the Gipper."
Taking Reagan Home to Meet the Folks
At a staff meeting in the White House Political Office in early fall of the 1988 campaign my boss quizzed those in the room for suggestions for a presidential campaign trip. I never thought my idea for the President to return to my hometown (I helped organize his visit in 1984)would be accepted but it was. I snapped the following in front of the courthouse in Bowling Green Ohio shortly after the President met my parents.
One thing everyone remembers about Reagan was his sense of humor. It came naturally to a man with such a sunny disposition; one who didn't take criticism so personally as do some politicians (hint...hint).
Reagan: The Serious Side
It was often said that President Reagan was called "The Great Communicator" because of his experience in acting. But the range of emotion he was able to communincate in moments of great national importance far outshadowed his accomplisments on film.
Reagan's speeches at the 40th commemoration of D-Day in France transcend the ordinary speech we might expect from lesser politicians. No teleprompter could possibly convey the depth of emotion in his words as he delivered them:
"These are the boys of Pointe Du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent and these are the heroes who helped end a war." --Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984
Audio, video and more photos here.
Later that day, Reagan's speech delivered on the grounds of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial centered around the story of Private Robert Zanatta, of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion. Private Zanatta was part of the first assualt wave that hit the beach that morning 65 years ago.The story is told by his daughter Lisa in a letter to President Reagan and ends with this:
cue to the 6:35 mark for:If you don't get a tear in your eye with that, then you need to see your doctor.
PRESIDENT REAGAN: Lisa Zanatta Henn began her story by quoting her father, who promised that he would return to Normandy. She ended with a promise to her father, who died 8 years ago of cancer: ``I'm going there, Dad, and I'll see the beaches and the barricades and the monuments. I'll see the graves, and I'll put flowers there just like you wanted to do. I'll feel all the things you made me feel through your stories and your eyes. I'll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let anyone else forget. And, Dad, I'll always be proud.''
More of the Best Reagan Audio:
Ron and Nancy boating off California, 1964Goodbye Mr. President...
full size photo here)