History & Culture / Opinion / Politics

Ronald Reagan’s Love of Freedom – On His Birthday

ronald reaganRonald Reagan – on what would be his 110th birthday – remains a timeless beacon, words and life, confidence, spirit, and inspiration.

He is a beacon not just for Republicans, or even Americans, but for all peoples – free and unfree – in all times.  Why?  Because he was long seeing, grounded in faith, history, and lived life showing adversity can be overcome, evil defeated by unremitting belief in the good, and freedom is worth dying for.  Alloyed with courage, it is unstoppable.  That is why.

At age 21, by a stroke luck, a kid from Maine worked in his White House, heard him speak, watched him convert audiences with his heart.  Reagan was earnest, instinctively humble, innately humorous, and his “aw shucks” nature sprang from the depths.  Approaching a group, he believed they were already with him, or by the time he was done they would be, and they always were.

What people forget is that Reagan was born with no silver spoon.  Son of an alcoholic father, raised on little but his mother’s faith and appreciation for hard work, he set sights on college – when seven percent of Americans went to college.  Hard worker, he played football, majored in economics, and by odd chance – had an English teacher who taught drama.  She left an imprint.

Cast as a beleaguered, principled, and alcoholic Captain Stanhope in the WWI epic “Journey’s End,” Reagan discovered he could act.  He brought hope in darkness. He was “astonished by the magic of an ordinary man convincing an audience” to understand, hope, and believe.  His words.

While at college, the Depression hit – 1929.  By 1933, unemployment hit 25 percent – structural, collapsed economy, homeless everywhere, not from self-inflicted lockdowns, no flying stock market.  Reagan’s prospects were dark, and yet – with inexplicable faith, his Midwestern hope was unbroken.

Losing his first job, he pivoted to broadcasting the Chicago Cubs – a sure sign of unflagging hope!  From there, Reagan let himself dream – of Hollywood.  A friend pushed him to knock on a Studio door, put away his thick glasses.  The Hand of Destiny, in the form of Warner Brothers, saw him as the next “Robert Taylor.”  Faith and persistence.  “Knock and it shall be answered.”

In films, including “Knute Rockne – All American” and “King’s Row,” Reagan was typecast the “good guy, winning against odds.”  He played himself.  With money earned, he moved his parents to California.

Pursuing goodness, Reagan hoped on the New Deal.  When WWII broke out, he signed up.  Destined for the Pacific, his bad eyes – and military fears of film actors KIA – kept him in the US.  Time, experience, focus on communism, concentrated power, suppression of core freedoms, caught Reagan’s attention.  Post-war, he dropped the Democrats, and became an anti-Soviet Republican.

Destiny, like a guardian angel, followed Reagan.  His depth, patriotism, heart-on-sleeve, concern for everyman’s liberty, worries about the Soviet Union, and gift for language lifted him, and those to whom he spoke.  At the Screen Actors Guild, 1964 Convention, in a 1965 book called “Where’s the Rest of Me?” (opposing “big government”), as governor, and even after losing the Republican nomination in 1976, Reagan was the happy warrior, hopeful, principled, a believer, optimist.  Famously, a book in the 1970s argued “Reagan would have made a great president.”  Indeed, and he did.

When elected president in 1980, Reagan did not change – one iota.  He was, as he had been, a believer.  Now, he could limit government, and face down evil.  Confronted with double-digit unemployment and inflation, Reagan believed tax cuts and the American People would turn things around.  They did.

Told by elites the Soviet Union was here to stay and should be accommodated, Reagan kept the horizon.  To him, it was an “evil empire,” must end “on the dust heap of history,” had no legitimacy.  Communist governments oppressed people, stripped them of their dignity, liberty, and life.  Lest we forget, Reagan speaking like that was called outlandish, reckless, provocative.  But he was undeterred.  He spoke truth – and most knew it, even then.  See, https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=reagan+london+evil+empire+speech&docid=608041699063368980&mid=5904DD0795A4E4D9849C5904DD0795A4E4D9849C&view=detail&FORM=VIRE.

In time, he would educate Americans about what freedom, success, liberty, and loss are all about, where in the heart sacrifice comes from, what it is made of, and what it requires from those to whom it is given.  He would do that in places like Normandy – standing over a windswept beach that claimed 6,000 young lives in June 1944.  See, https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=reagan+at+normandy+speech&&view=detail&mid=99D247DD61215877C60399D247DD61215877C603&rvsmid=ADEB5290F68162FE6370ADEB5290F68162FE6370&FORM=VDQVAP&ajf=60.

He would do that at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, telling a Soviet leader the “Wall” separating free from captive must come down.  See, https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=reagan+speech+tear+down+wall&docid=607991989077544744&mid=841634E4137FE42936A3841634E4137FE42936A3&view=detail&FORM=VIRE.  He would do so for a grieving nation, in the awful aftermath of the Challenger tragedy, reminding us the price of greatness is the courage to die for it, the crew “had slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”  Reagan seldom cried.  Speaking at Normandy and honoring Challenger’s crew, his voice barely held.  He cared, deeply.  See,  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=challenger+speech+touched+face+of+goda&&view=detail&mid=1CDF2561DCE06CC903A51CDF2561DCE06CC903A5&&FORM=VDRVRV;

So, on his birthday, we should have refreshed hope – in what is timeless, good, and inspires.  Thirty-nine years on, I look back on time in the Reagan White House with comfort, gratitude, and something we all share, recognition that – even in times of darkness – good perseveres and can win.  His farewell address put his faith and gratitude in perspective.  See, https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=challenger+speech+touched+face+of+goda&&view=detail&mid=8DB3A03474697DDEA9F58DB3A03474697DDEA9F5&&FORM=VDRVRV.

The last time I spoke with President Reagan was in 1990, now 30 years ago.  He was filled with mirth, good humor, hallmark humility, gratitude for each day.  He was crisp, joking easily about his friend Margaret Thatcher, told stories of his youth as a lifeguard, somehow never pausing to accept personal credit for the Soviet Union’s fall, rather crediting destiny.  Even then, faith, hope, and optimism held.

In the end, hope shines – like Reagan’s example – on knowledge that America has enjoyed such leaders, willing to speak truth without guile, love and understand freedom, honor those who die for it, and inspire those who, in time, will stand, speak, and fight for it again.  This clip captures it all:  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=reagan+speeches+composite+utube+freedom+defend&docid=608042274602091448&mid=32E9345613A7FF390D6D32E9345613A7FF390D6D&view=detail&FORM=VIRE.  May we never forget people like Reagan, and their undying faith in the power of goodness.  They lived the faith, brought evil down with it, and – when we pause – lift us still with it.  May we never forget.

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9 months ago

Thank you for the salute to the “Greatest President in my lifetime”. I shudder when I think back at what has happened to divide this nation since President Ronald Reagan left office.

9 months ago

The camera always came with me when I attended Tea Party rallies in Washington, D.C., a decade ago. I didn’t see it right away, but after I blew up one of the images, I spotted a faded 8×10 photograph of Ronald Reagan sitting in the bottom pane of a window in one of the capitol buildings.

The theme in many of the speeches and on hand-written posters reflected the values espoused by Reagan and other conservatives. We must keep speaking up!

jeff shull
9 months ago

A true American patriot.

9 months ago

I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.

John S.
9 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Yes, I know this is a direct quote from Reagan in the 1984 presidential debates. You are probably thinking that by posting it, you will get us to denounce Reagan for supporting amnesty.

Well, I refuse to take the bait. I do not think that illegal immigration is all that big a deal, even though Democrats think that we are so militant about it. Find something else to talk about.

Victoria Johnson
9 months ago

Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave along with our Founding Fathers and other patriots who created and fought for the freedom and liberty our country used to espouse and promote to the rest of the world. Only God can step in and save our Constitution and Republic. I’m getting a sinking feeling that isn’t part of His plan. As Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” We’ve been building toward it for at least 3 generations and I’m afraid this will be the final blow. R I P – U S A

Diana Erbio
9 months ago

When I was seventeen my grandfather asked me who I might select for president if I could vote. I chose the candidate of the opposite party of who was in office and gave the reason as “change”. It would be good to have a change I said. My grandfather said, “Change for change’s sake alone is not a good reason.” He told me to be sure I understood what the change was, before thinking it was a good thing. Whenever I hear the word change, I remember what my grandfather told me. I wish more voters would follow that advice.
It is important for citizens to pay close attention. Change may come quickly, but if it comes slowly it may not be noticed until it is in place. Once a fundamental transformation has been completed, or is near completion, and it is realized that it is not desirable, even if  by a majority of the citizenry, it will still be difficult to return to the post-transformative state.

The election my grandpa asked me about was between Carter & Ford…the next presidential election was Carter vs Reagan. I was old enough to vote in that election and voted for Reagan. He was change…a change from Carter’s Big Government ideas to Reagan’s Limited Government and Individual Freedom! My grandpa was right to teach me to understand what change I was voting for. 

9 months ago
Reply to  Diana Erbio

When I hear the word “change”, I’m always reminded of Obama’s ludicrous “Hope and Change” slogan. The outcome was as your grandfather warned; not knowing exactly what that change entails could lead us into a whole heap of trouble…like that poor frog that didn’t recognize the subtle temperature increases until it was too late to jump out of the pot.

9 months ago
Reply to  Kim

One of Obama quotes was something like this ” This is the greatest nation in the world, join me to change it”

9 months ago

The Republican Party needs to find the second coming of Ronald Regan in 2024. Need to dig deep and someone needs to come forward.

9 months ago
Reply to  par

Agree, GOP needs to get Trump out of the party following Sept 6th riot at Capitol. Also makes me wonder if another businessman should run for POTUS reviewing last four years track record. The federal debt has gone up for 12 straight years & cannot continue like that /// How is it possible that this debt can continue to increase?

Victoria Johnson
9 months ago
Reply to  johnh

There is NO human alive who could withstand the unrelenting assaults that Donald Trump has had to endure from the moment he became a candidate. You will definitely not be able to find ANY Republican who would even be willing, let alone be financially able, to take on that mission. The Dems, Big Tech, anarchists and the media are intoxicated with the power they have achieved and they will NEVER let it go. They will crush any candidate who dares to oppose them as the Time Magazine article proudly spelled out. Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” – “Pick your target, isolate him, destroy him, marginalize him”. Getting Trump out of ‘The Party’ will decimate ‘The Party’ and the Dems are hoping and praying the leadership will do just that. If the likes of McConnell, Chaney, and the ‘gang of seven’ prevail, the Republican Party will split and disappear altogether just as the Whig Party did when the Repub Party was created. The rank and file of the Republican Party are NEVER going to go back to being Charlie Brown with the football to Lucy, the Dem Party.

Jeannie Huppert
9 months ago

Beautiful, sweet article; & I agree w/Paul’s comments.

9 months ago

President Regan was a great President.
Donald Trump saved the USA.
Joe Biden/ Camalla Harris are out to Destroy Liberty!
Fight Back! Vote 2022! Vote Conservative!
Take back the House!

9 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Please explain how Trump saved the USA during his 4-years?? My biggest take-aways are increasing Fed debt each year & the handling of Covid-19 in early 2020 as he felt American citizens would panic. Today, USA has the highest death rate from Covid in the world & that should have never happened to the Greatest Country in the world.

Di B
9 months ago

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful President!

9 months ago

Happy Birthday President Reagan. We sure could use your help again. :-)

I just missed being able to vote for President Reagan in 1980, as I turned 18 in 1981.
My first Presidential election was 1984, and I still remember pulling the lever to re-elect President Reagan for his second term.

He was a wonderful man, a true patriot, and a great President.
God bless Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

9 months ago

Great article about a good president. RIP & happy Birthday President Reagan.

J. Farley
9 months ago

One of two great Presidents in the last 40 years, I have a picture on the wall taken with him, what a great man—–Two great Presidents, president Ronald Reagan and President Donald J. Trump , both keep America Great !!!!!!!

Linda Burden
9 months ago
Reply to  J. Farley

So true!

J. Farley
9 months ago
Reply to  Linda Burden

THANKS !!!!!!!!!

James Howard
9 months ago

Truly awesome.

9 months ago
Reply to  James Howard

Keep the faith! He would! Thank you for reading, commenting, believing in the future! RBC

9 months ago

Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat that I voted for, Ronald Reagan was the first Republican, Donald Trump will go down in history as the greatest President, The Bush’s ‘ left a lot to be desired. “So there you go again” As for as today, I have been encouraging every body to write and call your local state representatives to demand that your state Attorney General to sue Bejing Joe for all the unconstitutional EO’s he has signed, more and more states are, let your voice be heard, Trump nominated and had confirmed 300+ Federal Judges, don’t let them go to waste!

Carol Newmyer
9 months ago
Reply to  Felix

Right on

9 months ago
Reply to  Felix

The behavior that Trump displayed in the last two months of his term will prevent him from going down in history as the Greatest. Sept 6th was a dark day for the USA & people need to honestly ask themselves why it happened that way. Also, throwing VP Mike Pence under bus after 4-years tells me a lot about the POTUS that week.

9 months ago

Let the American people speak well of him the greatest honor of all . Now that was a good article an not another one of Uncle Joe , Nutty Nancy the last thing Americans want to hear . He lived the faith but he was a go getter sadly lacking today . More article’s of inspiring Americans that believed and then rolled up their sleeves to get it done!

Sheri Richardson
9 months ago

Would love to share this and other articles on Facebook. Anyone know how?

9 months ago

Not only a great president, but a scholar and true politician.

Cindy C
9 months ago

The time is now for our republican representatives in congress and the senate to fight against all that the democrats and their ilk are trying to get away with. Each and every day are reports of another of our freedoms that are being threatened. I am truly concerned that another civil war is going to occur. I do not think that President Reagan would know how to handle the chaos in our country today. 45 was tough and look where it got him. Everyone should be writing or calling their state and federal reps on a daily basis. I do.

Josephine pooley
9 months ago

One of the truly great Presidents!

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