politics, history and the war on terror
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Fairwell to the Chief 

On June 5, 3002, Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, ended his ten year twilight struggle with Alzheimer's disease. President Reagan's eight-year presidency began with a landslide victory over President Carter (489-49 Electoral College votes, 51% of the popular vote) and the immediate release of the American hostages held in Iran, after 444 days of inaction by President Carter. He was reelected in 1984, defeating challenger Walter Mondale in another landslide victory (525-13 Electoral College votes, 59% of the popular vote). His two term presidency included many successes and setbacks, including taxes cuts and substantial economic growth, his survival of an assassination attempt, Hezbollah's attack on the Marines barracks in Beirut and the subsequent American withdraw from Lebanon, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Black Monday stock market crash and its quick recovery, and the ratification of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, which abolished an entire class of nuclear weapons.

His defining moments as president were his continuous stands against communism and the Soviet Union. He had the vision to recognize the threat communism posed against the forces of freedom, liberalization and democracy. He had the moral clarity to label the USSR the Evil Empire, and the will and determination to fight the Soviets in every way possible. He actively opposed the spread of communism in the Caribbean, with the invasion of Grenada, and in Central America with the support of the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua and the assistance to the governments of Honduras and El Salvador, which fought Soviet and Cuba supported communist insurgencies. He armed the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, which broke the back of the Soviet occupation armies. He provided moral and economic support to the freedom movements in Eastern Europe, and constantly challenged the USSR to liberalize. He rebuilt and modernized the military after its decline and malaise of the post Vietnam era, proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), the program that was to provide a missile defense against Soviet nuclear weapons, and deployed medium range nuclear missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet threat. The program of active and passive opposition to the USSR, along with the rebuilding and moderization of the US military ultimately led to the defeat of the Soviet Union. President Reagan demonstrated that the USSR could not compete militarily, economically and morally with the United States. In 1987, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev announced the policies of Glasnost and Perestroika (openness and reform), programs designed to loosen the totalitarian controls in the USSR. In 1989, the Berlin Wall was toppled and Germany was reunited as a democratic government. In 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and the main communist threat against the western world passed into history.

President Reagan was more than just a successful and admired president. He was a devout Christian, an actor, an Army officer, husband and father, twice elected governor of California, a columnist and radio personality. He wrote over 10,000 personal letters to friends, family admirers and detractors, and demonstrated his kindness, thoughtfulness, humor and humanity.

President Reagan is my personal hero. I was ten years old when he was elected, and was inspired by his, hope, vision and positive outlook on America and our place in the world. I began to follow politics, history and world events solely because of his leadership and personality, and I suspect I am not alone. America has lost one of its greatest citizens and greatest presidents.

If you would like to express your sympathy to the Reagan family, visit the Ronald Reagan Memorial website and select the Condolences Book link.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:41 AM