Our nation pays its respects today to Ronald Reagan, President from 1980 to 1988. He was the first President I remembered. As far as I can tell he was also the first President our people embraced.
I was five years old on the Mormon frontier in Arizona when Jim Brady took a bullet and President Reagan got shot. I remember the universal grief. I was with my mother on a church visit (visiting teaching I think) when we heard. We stopped in at a little ranch house. The radio was playing. The sister answered the door and she was stricken. “They shot the President.” I remember my mother’s face sagged. We had so many hopes invested in him.
The next few days whenever the adults got together the conversation was always a retelling of the story, how he got shot, how he was recovering, what things he said from his hospital bed. This was our guy, our affable knight against the kingdoms of darkness. When I later found out he’d had us sing at his inaugural I thought, of course, he knew who his stalwarts were.
Today, in the morning of Ronald Reagan’s new life, I pray that he will do justly by himself as he did by us, and accept all the proffered blessings with an easy smile and warm thanks.
“We will always remember. We will always be proud.”