A Light gone out in the City on a Hill

June 11, 2004 | 3 comments

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.”

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3 Responses to A Light gone out in the City on a Hill

  1. Admin on June 11, 2004 at 3:28 pm


    Maybe I’m paranoid, but this thread worries me a little, so I wanted to take a second to discuss proper ettiquette. Ronald Reagan was a somewhat polarizing figure, and the reaction to his passing, in other quarters of the blogosphere, has been quite varied. In particular, many bloggers and commenters elsewhere have posted harsh critiques of President Reagan’s policies.

    Adam has expressed a sentiment that many members undoutedly share. What has been expressed is personal sentiment, not detailed political analysis.

    I suspect that if readers critical of Reagan use the comments of this thread to critique his politics, it will be viewed by some other readers as inappropriate ill-speaking of the dead, or as inappropriate political critique of Adam’s eulogy. That could create the potential for the kind of ugly personal comment wars that we try to avoid.

    So, let me suggest that commenters take care in commenting to this thread. Readers critical of Reagan’s policies are encouraged to move on, and not post any such critiques in comments here. There are many other more appropriate places to discuss politics, including Reagan’s politics. (E.g., here or here). Thank you.

  2. lyle on June 11, 2004 at 3:32 pm

    Adam. Thank you for sharing. I have just returned to Philly from D.C. where I stood in line all night, with little more than hope that I would make it to the Rotunda before Pres. Reagan moved to the National Cathedral. If only I would have worn my uniform; they had a special line for uniformed personnel (+1 guest)…and my godson Kevin (15) would have been greatly relieved.

    re: the Memorial.

    I cried.

    I cried again whenever I looked at the huge lines of folks (8 hour wait), all patiently waiting (or sleeping if they were 8 years old or younger), to pay their respects to the Great Latter-day Liberator.

    I cried when a golf cart took the WWII & Vietnam Veteran Carl Thompson to the top of the Capital Hill line after he walked slowly & steadily with the aide of a cane through the first 7 hours.

    I cried when I thanked the Flia. Reagan for sacrificing time with their father & spouse for the good of the Nation & the world.

    I got chocked up & cried whenever I talked with folks from all over the country, from other countries, with more skin shades than can be counted, who eagerly wished to thank Pres. Reagan. Perhaps I spoke with one of my own distant cousins among the many Polish & Polish-American’s present.

    I cried during the eulogies given by Margaret Thatchet…when Pres. H.W. Bush got choked up about his friendship (which replaced earlier animosity) & respect for Pres. Reagan…when Pres. Bush stood there as a living example, albeit a less magnificent one, as he unconsciously & without guile spoke of the faith of President Reagan & his imminent meeting with the Savior face to face.

    I cried to remember my own first memory of Pres. Reagan; which I place below.

    Pres. Reagan’s journey into the sunset will begin today. His journey into the realm of Spirit has already began & one can only hope that he has LDS relatives so that he doesn’t have to appear to Pres. Hinckley & beg for his temple work to be done.

    Finally, I cried as I recognized that I had lost my political father; who inspired both me and my mortal father…and whom has inspired generations of our sisters & brothers, all over the world, to embark on the great journey towards creating the City on the Hill, the Shining City of Zion, where Freedom exists freely for everyone. Viva our Latter-day Founding Father Ronald Reagan. I am sure that his reunion with his oldest daughter was happy & joyous. I know he will make a great missionary, as the Great Communicator learns more about his Heavenly Father’s great plan of Freedom & Salvation & is given a chance to welcome & influence those near & dear to him in the beyond that is there…and here.

    When I was five years old, Adelina Kaminski (my Catholic, Polish-American Grandmother) was talking presidential politics with Sandra & Will Stamps.

    They discussed who to vote for & why. My opinion was not asked & they likely figured I didn’t understand.

    Lyle: Grandma, vote for Reagan…not Carter. Reagan supports your values & principles better. He is a great man & needs your vote.
    Grandma: Pumpkin…I’ll think about it.

    While my grandmother recently & unexpectedly passed away, before I could think to ask her if she followed by advice . . . that experience sparked my journey, like that of many others, towards a life dedicated to public service & seeking to maximize the freedom (aka agency) of all.

  3. Restoring Lost Comments on November 25, 2004 at 9:56 pm

    [Restoring Comments Inadvertently Lost in the WP transfer] :

    Sorry to be windy:
    1. We both were able to enter the Rotunda & say goodbye. I’m glad we choose to wear our Sunday best.
    2. As I hear others speak Adam…I am more convinced, as my post makes implicit, & now explicit: The Light of Ronald Reagan lives, enlivens & liberates still.
    Comment by: lyle at June 11, 2004 03:39 PM


    I wasn’t sure who was writing your posts until I saw the name at the bottom. It’s as if the depth of your emotion was transmuted to the elevation of your writing. I envy you your participation.
    Comment by: Adam Greenwood at June 11, 2004 03:46 PM


    Thanks for sharing your experience, Lyle. My father knew a man who worked closely with Pres. Reagan, & who shared the following anecdote: He & Pres. Reagan were coming down in an elevator, discussing politics etc. The boy who ran the elevator was very silent & overawed, as you can imagine. When they came to their floor, Pres. Regan & my father’s friend got out quickly & began to rush off, when suddenly Pres. Reagan stopped short & rushed backed to the elevator just in time to stop its doors from closing, where he shook the boy’s hand & thanked him for his service. This anecdote was said to be utterly typical of Pres. Reagan’s attitude toward his countrymen. It was not a show; to have forgotten the boy in the elevator would have given him real mental anguish.
    Comment by: Kingsley at June 11, 2004 04:09 PM


    I need to run in just a minute, but I wanted simply to register my profound respect and regard for Ronald Reagan.
    I believe that, in the years since the end of his presidency, more and more are beginning to realize that he was (and is) a truly remarkable man. His critics always wildly underestimated him. Most of the people didn’t, and the historians, I am quite confident, ultimately will not.
    Seeing Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev sitting together today as mourners in the National Cathedral beautifully illustrated his impact upon the world scene.
    There’s much more that I could say, but the obligation to leave spares me further temptation to reveal my seriously held quasi-libertarian, Neanderthal right-wing political views. Still, I’ll readily put on record that I am proud to have voted for Reagan when he ran for governor of California, and every time he ran for the presidency — including the 1976 primary contest with Gerald Ford.
    As luck would have it, I was in the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley when his death was announced. I’ve missed him for years, but even more so today. He made me proud in 1980, and did so again this morning.
    Comment by: Daniel Peterson at June 11, 2004 08:52 PM


    Thanks for your thoughts, Adam. This has been an occasion for me to reflect on the massive changes on the world scene since Reagan became president. Some changes are for the worse, apparently, but some are for the better. I took a few minutes to reread Reagan’s speech in Berlin, in which he calls for Gorbachev to tear down the wall, and thought of the dizzy delight I felt during the months, not long after, in which the walls across Eastern Europe all came down, the wonder I felt finally standing on Red Square a few years later, the last place on Earth I had thought I would be able, as an American, to enjoy a pleasant summer’s afternoon, as relaxed as can be. I only wish Gorbachev’s homeland were doing as well now as some of the countries farther west. I have savored my friendships with many whose experience, from the other side of those walls, I can hardly imagine, however many stories I hear. I hope that despite the lowering of the drama since 1989, we will press forward in building a common peace and prosperity.
    Comment by: Ben Huff at June 11, 2004 10:28 PM


    Was anyone else at the Mariott center when he spoke back in the early 90′s? I remember waiting overnight in a rather large line to be able to get tickets.
    Comment by: Clark Goble at June 12, 2004 12:19 AM


    Well, I guess it’s your site, so you can do what you want with it; it does seem a little strange to me, though, given the nature of this site, to proscribe any negative reactions to Adam’s post.
    Comment by: Davis Bell at June 12, 2004 12:31 AM


    I’m pretty surprised that I never put two and two together, but it took this week of eulogies and commentary for me to realize that it was only after he appeared that I switched parties and became a Republican. All this time and I never realized that I am one of those Reagan Democrats.
    And it feels so good to feel good about our country again…he seems to be able to provoke that even while laying in a coffin. If only we could maintain this spirit when we return to business as usual.
    Comment by: Juliann at June 12, 2004 01:20 AM


    I was there in the Marriott Center, in March of 1991, I believe. It was the height of the first Gulf war, and Reagan took a few questions from the audience, one of which questioned the wisdom of our sending weapons to Sadaam during the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. My politics are at the other end of the spectrum, but Reagan endeared himself to me by admitting that it had been quite a “boner” to arm Iraq. His use of the word “boner” elicited laughter from the audience and provided the Student Review with weeks of material.
    Comment by: Dan Richards at June 12, 2004 11:20 AM


    Davis: Negatives are allowed; T&S simply requested that they be posted elsewhere. :)
    Comment by: lyle at June 12, 2004 01:49 PM


    Davis: Negatives are allowed; T&S simply requested that they be posted elsewhere. :)
    Comment by: lyle at June 12, 2004 01:50 PM


    For what it is worth, Steve Benson, who is usually very critical of most Republicans, has had four or five cartoons in a row memorializing Ronald Reagan in the Arizona Republic.
    Comment by: Austin Frost at June 12, 2004 04:48 PM


    There have been discussions on this blog about the controversy of whitewashing or sanitizing the record of historical Church leaders, Joseph Smith, John Taylor, etc.; or for that matter, doing the same to current Church leaders.
    I tend to agree that the Latter-Day Saints can even less afford to deify political leaders.
    For Kaimi’s benefit, let me make clear that is not a criticism of Reagan or his policies, BTW. There’s nothing much the deceased can do about it; it’s a problem for the living.
    Comment by: diogenes at June 13, 2004 11:05 AM


    I also was in attendance when Reagan spoke at BYU in 1991. I remember the fierce competition to be a “questioner” after the speech. You had to submit questions in advance, and I spent a lot of time on mine. I thought it was brilliant and profound, but it probably wasn’t. I was really bummed out when I wasn’t chosen. A good friend of mine was, however, and hers was the most overtly criticial of the questions (I think it had something to do with the deficit). Reagan got indignant at the question, and blamed Congress in his response, which was well-received by the audience.
    Aaron B
    Comment by: Aaron Brown at June 13, 2004 12:25 PM


    The most fascinating thing I know about Ronald Reagan is his Illinois upbringing in the Disciples of Christ Church, aka the Campbellites, our near Restorationist cousins. His mother deserves the credit, of course.
    Comment by: Mark Butler at June 14, 2004 11:52 AM


    Thanks for mentioning that Mark. Re-affirms my belief that the gospel & God had something to do with this Latter-day Founding Father.
    Comment by: lyle at June 14, 2004 12:36 PM


    There are Campbellites and then there are Campbellites. Given that the Disciples describe themselves as something like the Unitarian-Universalists, but not as conservative (!), Mark’s fascinating fact seems a bit of a suprise, and Lyle’s addendum even more hyperbolic than it appears.
    Are you sure it wasn’t the Campbellite *Churches* of Christ? That would be much more in line with Reagan’s — well to keep Kaimi happy, let’s just say — “way of thinking.”
    I also wonder a bit about calling the Campbellites “our near Restorationist cousins” — the Campbells were certainly also Millennialists, but Alexander Campbell thought Joseph Smith was a crackpot and a charlatan, and Joseph had pretty much the same view about Campbell.
    Comment by: diogenes at June 14, 2004 03:17 PM


    Mark–are you sure the “Disciples of Christ” are Campbellites? I grew up around members of the “Church of Christ,” and I believe they claim theirs is the church Alexander Campbell founded. Incidentally, they are quite hostile to Mormons–hardly kissing cousins!
    Comment by: Kristine at June 14, 2004 04:09 PM


    oops–Two minutes of lazy web research confirms that both the Disciples of Christ and the churches of Christ claim to have grown out of the “Restoration Movement” begun by Campbell (and others). Still, it would seem Reagan might have been friendly to Mormons in spite of, rather than because of, his Campbellite upbringing.
    Comment by: Kristine at June 14, 2004 04:19 PM


    Not that Campbellites are necesarily friendly to Mormons, but Sidney Rigdon undoubtedly brought many of his Campbellite ideas to the chruch when he joined and became a major church leader. (Didn’t Rigdon and a major leader — Cambell himself? — have a few lengthy debates over the church? Also, as I recall, the church plundered Rigdon’s Campbellite contacts for more converts, which increased both the hostility, and the Campbellite influence in the church).
    On a completely different subject, let me point out that a new venue, more or less amenable to (coherently) venting one’s non-eulogy-esque thoughts on Reagan, is now available at http://rameumptom.blogspot.com/2004/06/zion-and-uses-of-patriotism.html .
    Comment by: Kaimi at June 14, 2004 04:29 PM


    There are all sorts of general similarities between Campell & and the early Church, but they (as E. Meyer pointed out) all can be found in a commonsense reading of the NT. Rigdon’s strongest influence (aside from the name of the Church etc.) was the Law of Consecration, which was something he & Campbell disagreed pretty violently on when Rigdon was preaching for him.
    Comment by: Kingsley at June 14, 2004 04:39 PM


    I have removed a few of the sillier attempts to be bilious without overt bile. Unfortunately, I have had to remove some of the responses thereto, since they now lacked context. This was particularly unfortunate with regards to Dan Petersen’s Pierre Trudeau story. Alas.
    For the record, note that Kaimi and others are likely acting out of respect, not endorsement. Their actuating sentiment appears to be that of Ecclesiastes–’to every thing there is a season.’ This is a sentiment with which i can agree.
    Comment by: Adam Greenwood at June 14, 2004 08:52 PM


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