If I Could Ask Ronald Reagan One Question
January 06, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Ronald Reagan was a President of vast influence by any reckoning, but especially among the American Christian community. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, Ken Coleman of Onequestionwith.com shares the one question he’d like to ask the late leader.
By Ken Coleman
From a flailing economy to Soviet aggression to the threat of international terrorism, President Ronald Reagan presided over one of the most tumultuous times in modern American history. If I could ask President Ronald Reagan just one question it would be, “How did you remain positive amid such difficult times?”
I still remember the first time I heard President Reagan speak on August 23, 1984. Reagan stepped up to the podium in the Dallas Convention Center to accept the nomination at the Republican Convention in his quest for a second term. Though only ten, I was completely captured by his reassuring voice and confident demeanor. To this day, I remain moved by his closing words:
The poet called Miss Liberty's torch the ``lamp beside the golden door.'' Well, that was the entrance to America, and it still is. And now you really know why we're here tonight.
The glistening hope of that lamp is still ours. Every promise, every opportunity is still golden in this land. And through that golden door our children can walk into tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America.
Her heart is full; her door is still golden, her future bright. She has arms big enough to comfort and strong enough to support, for the strength in her arms is the strength of her people. She will carry on in the eighties unafraid, unashamed, and unsurpassed.
I could not fully understand the power of those words that night. Yet, as I’ve matured and grown, so has my admiration for Ronald Reagan. He has been called “The Great Communicator,” and he was. I suggest that he should also be called “The Great Restorer.”
Ronald Reagan restored America’s confidence and stature around the world. When the economy was down, he cast a vision for triumphant recovery. In the midst of the Cold War, he daringly proclaimed that Communism would “end up on the ash heap of history.” His prophecy proved true. And who can forget his famous demand to the sitting Soviet leader: “Mr. Gorbacev. Tear down this wall!”
Reagan comforted America and her school children after they watched the Space
Shuttle Challenger disaster on live television. He engaged his political adversaries with humor and competitive civility, traits uncommon in modern public discourse.
At his funeral, President George H.W. Bush said the following of President
Reagan, “Politics can be cruel and uncivil, our friend was strong and
gentle. Once he called America hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring,
decent, and fair. That was America, and yes, our friend.”
How could a single leader remain so calm in the face of unbridled aggression? How could one man settle the hearts of a restless nation? How did he remain positive amid such difficult times?
In his absence, none can answer with certainty. But I think he would say the source of his composure was the power of his belief. Ronald Reagan believed the best about America; he believed in her people and the strength of their collective resolve. Ronald Reagan spoke of America as “a shining City on a hill,” and he believed such a dream was attainable.
CBS Correspondent Mike Wallace once asked Reagan to identify an American leader he admired, Mr. Reagan cited Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "He took his case to the people," Mr. Reagan said. "The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things."
Reflecting on this interview years later, Mrs. Reagan said her husband lived up to his own definition. "He got them to believe in themselves once again," she said. "He got them to think about the whole country differently.”
Many will remember Ronald Reagan as a great President. Many more, regardless
of political persuasion, will remember Ronald Reagan as a great man. Perhaps one day future generations will question how we too remained positive amid our own difficulties. And maybe—just maybe—they will credit impeccable role models like Reagan who showed us how best to lead.
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