Saturday, June 5, 2004

Mourning in America

Mourning in America
By Sanford D. Horn
June 5, 2004

I cast my first ballot in 1984 when I voted for President Ronald Reagan, the same year I turned 18. I couldn’t wait to vote. On my birthday I went to town hall in Springfield, NJ registered to vote and applied for an absentee ballot as I would be a freshman attending the University of Maryland that fall, where I joined the College Republicans and volunteered for the Reagan reelection campaign.

I even volunteered for the previous presidential campaign in 1980 when I was not even old enough to vote. I took pride, at age 14, to be able to tell people that my father, a candidate for Town Council that year, and one of my political heroes, appeared on the same ballot with Reagan.

I also count President Reagan among my political heroes. The Great Communicator restored dignity and pride in being an American following the malaise that was the Carter administration featuring 20-plus percent interest rates, over 10 percent unemployment and the Iranian hostage crisis. Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election in a landslide over Carter saying it would be “morning in America again,” and that the United States was a “shinning city upon a hill.” Reagan, outspoken, honest, dignified and principled also restored respect to the office of president and respectability to the presidency.

During the 1984 reelection campaign President Reagan exhibited his brilliant sense of humor during a specifically memorable moment in a debate with his Democratic opponent former Vice President Walter Mondale. The President was asked if age would be an issue during the campaign – referring to his age, 73, at the time. Reagan quipped he wouldn’t make his opponent’s youth and inexperience an issue, to the roars from the audience.

Reagan exhibited that same sense of humor following the assassination attempt made on him just over two months after taking office when he asked the doctors at the hospital if they were all Republicans. He awoke to tell his wife Nancy, “I forgot to duck.”

A brilliant orator, Reagan, a former president of the Screen Actors Guild, appeared in 53 motion pictures, perhaps most notably as George Gipp where he uttered the now famous, “win just one for the Gipper.” The onetime Democrat had decided to become a Republican when he said the party had left him and not the other way around. He realized high tax rates would not be the way fix America’s economic crises through personal experiences as an actor when his tax rate reached 90 percent. Why would anyone work for 10 cents on the dollar, he wondered. As president, Reagan oversaw the reduction of the top tax rate from above 70 percent to 28 percent.

An Army Captain from 1941-45, President Reagan oversaw the rebuilding of the United States’ military and restored pride in the wearing of the uniform. Thanks to Ronald Reagan the United States emerged victorious from the Cold War with nary a shot fired, in spite of referring to the Soviet Union as “the Evil Empire,” much to the chagrin of his liberal detractors.

President Reagan boldly stood in front of the Berlin Wall and implored Soviet ruler “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall,” when Reagan’s advisors strongly suggested he not offend his Soviet counterpart with such strong language. The wall soon came tumbling down as did the threat of Communism.

Considered the Father of the Modern Conservative Movement, Reagan received the baton from Mr. Republican himself, the late Arizona Senator Barry M. Goldwater, another of my political heroes, and someone I had the privilege to meet and interview.

President Ronald Reagan displayed the indomitable American spirit with his good natured ness, fine sense of humor, appreciation for his nation’s history, regard for loyalty, strong leadership qualities, depth of character and desire to make America a greater place for future generations to enjoy. Like him or dislike him, when he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan enjoyed the highest popularity of any American president.

Although President Reagan suffered for the past decade with the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease, an incalculable amount of credit must go to Nancy Reagan, his wife since 1952 for standing by her husband’s side and taking care of him. At 93, President Reagan lived longer than any other American President. Quoting Ronald Reagan, “even when you’re prepared, you’re still shocked when someone dies.”

G-d Bless Ronald Reagan and G-d Bless the United States of America.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.