Farewell, President Reagan

 

The flags fly at half-mast and a nation mourns the passing of a president. 

 

In our fast paced world, everything suddenly slows to a measured pace for the solemn occasion of the state and national funeral for our 40th president of the United States.  We see the funeral procession of horses pulling the caisson that bears the flag-draped casket and following behind is a riderless black horse aptly named Sgt. York.  The empty saddle and the rider’s boots turned backward in the stirrups symbolize a soldier who will ride no more. 

 

Thousands of people wait in line for hours just to pass by the casket.   A man in cowboy boots takes off his hat and holds it over his heart.  A young mother whispers to a little girl in her arms who looks questioningly at the flag covered casket.  Perhaps the mother is explaining about America, presidents, flags, and freedom.  The little girl has yet to understand that she is a part of a special day in history but she will not forget it.   Next, a man in a wheel chair passes by; a rosary dangles in the air as a woman folds her hands in prayer, and a man beside her salutes.  People come from all walks of life and from many different places to pay their respect to Ronald Reagan, an American president.

 

In times like this, America becomes unified and some nations do not understand that because they see us disagree over many issues.  It is the love of God and country that stirs us in a renewed patriotism that can only be understood in the light of freedom.

 

Ronald Reagan came from humble beginnings and yet he rose to the highest office in America.  He is an example of what can be accomplished in our country.  He achieved the American dream and in doing so, leaves us an example of how goals can be attained in America if we are willing to work hard and reach for them.  In our country it is possible to begin as a lifeguard and end up as president.

 

We remember many things about Ronald Reagan as president.  He was a strong leader who had the courage to say things that needed to be said even when others cautioned him to be less forthright.  President Reagan believed in freedom and he strongly opposed communism calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, and who can forget his words:  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”   Many people were astounded two years later when the wall did come down.

 

Many of President Reagan’s quotes will long be remembered, some of my favorites are:

 

"The future belongs to the free."

 

"There's no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."

 

“If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.

"We defend freedom here or it is gone."

 

 

“You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.”

 

“And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

  

One thing I will always remember about President Reagan is the way that he and the first lady loved each other. It was obvious when you saw them together and Nancy’s “gaze of love” that was often so very evident when she observed him speaking. President Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, saw this to be true to the very end when she said:

 

"In his last moment he taught me that there is nothing stronger than love between two people, two souls. It was the last thing he could do to show my mother how entwined their souls are... At the last moment when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked straight at my mother. Eyes that had not opened for days did, and they weren't chalky or vague. They were clear and blue and full of life. If a death can be lovely, his was." --Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter

 

There is too much to remember about our 40th president to put in this bit of writing but we will remember him through the great legacy that he has left us.  We will remember “the great communicator” in books that have been written and films that have been made about him.  Yet, most of all, we will remember him in our hearts… for who can forget that winsome smile, his humor, his enthusiasm and even his love for jellybeans.

To honor President Ronald Reagan I take the liberty of paraphrasing some of his own words that he spoke at the time of the Challenger disaster and directing them toward him:   “We will never forget you, and we wave good-bye as you slip the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God”

By Pamela R. Blaine                                                                                 

©June 9, 2004

“We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.”   

(President Ronald Wilson Reagan, June 6th, 1984 Normandy, France)