What The World Needs Now: Another One-Of-A-Kind Like Ronald Reagan
I've always liked President Ronald Reagan.
I wouldn't have fit in the category of fanatic, or devoted follower. To me he was the President of my youth. I was 14 when he got elected and 18 when he got re-elected and I'm happy to say that I voted for him in 1984.
But the breadth and depth of what this man did for our country was lost on me as I was busy getting married, raising kids and developing a career in the late 80s and the 1990s.
But yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
Now I'm a real fan.
Just read some of these quotes posted up at the Museum.
"Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help."
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well fought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same."
I've never been a big museum guy, either. "Dead people who did stuff," I uttered once when asked what museum's were all about.
But when I was told that Air Force One and Marine One (the presidential helicopter) were both at the museum -- in fact inside the museum, -- well then I started to get excited about the trip.
The Reagan Library is located in Simi Valley, a beautiful area with scenery, mountains, lovable housing developments and (as far as I could tell) only one real fault -- it's in California.
But the trip there was pleasant and the rumors were true -- the jet and helicopter are both inside the museum. And yet, it was the other stuff that captured my attention. Reagan, who went by "Dutch" in his younger years, started off in radio, doing small college and high school sports.
He worked his tail off and became a star actor, and a household name when he hosted the General Electric Theater.
From the GE website:
"Over eight seasons, Reagan and (reporter Don) Herbert crisscrossed the country and visited more than 130 GE labs and factories. They reported on everything from jet engines — the technology was barely a decade old back then — to the future of electricity. Several broadcasts in 1956 even took place inside Reagan’s brand-new “all-electric” hilltop home in Pacific Palisades, California, as part of GE’s “Live Better — Electrically” marketing campaign. The Reagan residence served as the model home, “pointing the way to the electrical future. By 1956, it was the third-most-popular show on American television, reaching over 25 million viewers every week."
Using that fame, Reagan began a political career with an electrifying, entertaining and world-changing speech in 1964 that was later dubbed the "Time For Choosing" speech. A couple of excerpts:
"Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth."
"We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer - and they've had almost 30 years of it - shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while?"
And one of my favorites ...
"Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
And finally, one more from that speech ...
"No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So governments' programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth."
Reagan's been gone since 2004, Alzheimer's claiming the great man at the age of 93. But spending time learning about him has convinced me that he is truly one of the greatest Americans that ever lived.
Not surprisingly, the words I kept hearing at the Reagan Library, from the patrons, the staff, the various visitors were these: "Boy, we sure could use another Ronald Reagan right now."
As the great communicator once said: "To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last - but eat you he will."