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Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Reagan: Chapter One

This particular evening, all I planned to add to this blog was a letter. It is a worthy letter; one that I hope many of the visitors to this blog will read. It will still be posted, at midnight.

Then came the news about Ronald Reagan.

We have C-Span on in this house right now. It is replaying Reagan's speeches. It is a wonderful thing to walk about the house and see his face on every television, as if it were the 1980s again.

The Reagan years weren't all easy ones for conservatism in Washington, in case you've been getting that impression from the news coverage. But then, easy years don't need extraordinary leaders, and Ronald Reagan certainly was one of those.

Thanks to my old friend Morton Blackwell -- then a new mentor -- I served on the national campaign staff when Reagan ran for President in 1980. I was 20. My job was recruiting young people to vote for Governor Reagan. Because of it, I was able to attend the convention at which Reagan was nominated. I also got to stand near the front of the crowd, below the dais, when he was sworn in. It was a wonderful opportunity, although one could see it a lot better on TV.

The National Center opened in February 1982 with a mission of acting on "emergency" issues. We interpreted this for the most part until 1990 as fighting the Cold War.

That means that we, and I, spent the 1980s running projects supporting President Reagan's deployment of the Pershing Missiles in Europe, his Strategic Defense Initiative, and his policies (ever controversial!) that brought democracy to Latin America.

I was a junior member of the conservative movement in those days, but I was lucky in that I had the opportunity to talk with President Reagan twice. Once was purely a greeting. The other conversation had substance. I'll leave it for another day to discuss what that was about, but for tonight, I want to say this: I was a kid, but he listened to me as though I wasn't. And he really did listen.

Ronald Reagan deserves a lifetime of blog entries. There isn't time to fit a lifetime in tonight, but there doesn't have to be. We'll be talking about Ronald Reagan again. Our great-great-great-great grandchildren will be talking about Ronald Reagan. Whenever and wherever the history of freedom is written; Ronald Reagan will be Chapter One.

I'm ending this blog entry now. C-Span is running President Reagan's speech on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day. I've never before watched that speech without crying. I don't know how I will do tonight.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:50 PM

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