February 6, 2018: Remembering Reagan


Today is my sixty-sixth birthday.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I share a birthday with Ronald Wilson Reagan.  I have long admired Reagan, the greatest President of my lifetime.   Reagan lived his life with courage and grace, two qualities amply demonstrated with his final public act, an open letter to the American people:


Nov. 5, 1994

My Fellow Americans,

I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Upon learning this news, Nancy and I had to decide whether as private citizens we would keep this a private matter or whether we would make this news known in a public way.

In the past Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had my cancer surgeries. We found through our open disclosures we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that as a result many more people underwent testing.

They were treated in early stages and able to return to normal, healthy lives.

So now, we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it.

At the moment I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life’s journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters.

Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.

In closing let me thank you, the American people for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your President. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.

I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.


Ronald Reagan”

Published in: on February 6, 2023 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on February 6, 2018: Remembering Reagan  
Tags: ,

July 17, 1980: Ronald Reagan Acceptance Speech


Hands down the most effective acceptance speech I have witnessed in my life.  Reagan had been aiming for this since 1968.  For his conservative followers this was the culmination of a battle dating back to the Eisenhower-Taft struggle in 1952.  Here is the text of the speech:

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President to be, this convention, my fellow citizens of this great nation:

With a deep awareness of the responsibility conferred by your trust, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States. I do so with deep gratitude, and I think also I might interject on behalf of all of us, our thanks to Detroit and the people of Michigan and to this city for the warm hospitality they have shown. And I thank you for your wholehearted response to my recommendation in regard to George Bush as a candidate for vice president.

I am very proud of our party tonight. This convention has shown to all America a party united, with positive programs for solving the nation’s problems; a party ready to build a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom.

I know we have had a quarrel or two, but only as to the method of attaining a goal. There was no argument about the goal. As president, I will establish a liaison with the 50 governors to encourage them to eliminate, where it exists, discrimination against women. I will monitor federal laws to insure their implementation and to add statutes if they are needed.

More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country; to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values. (more…)

Published in: on July 17, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

June 20, 1985: Medal of Freedom for the Saint of the Gutters


We are misunderstood, we are misrepresented, we are misreported. We are not nurses, we are not doctors, we are not teachers, we are not social workers. We are religious, we are religious, we are religious.


Mother Teresa

A third of a century ago President Reagan awarded Saint Teresa of Calcutta the Medal of Freedom:

The President. This great house receives many great visitors, but none more special or more revered than our beloved guest today. A month ago, we awarded the Medal of Freedom to 13 heroes who have done their country proud. Only one of the recipients could not attend because she had work to do — not special work, not unusual work for her, but everyday work which is both special and urgent in its own right. Mother Teresa was busy, as usual, saving the world. And I mean that quite literally. And so we rather appreciated her priorities, and we’re very happy, indeed, that she could come to America this week.

Now, a moment ago, I said we’d awarded the Medal of Freedom to heroes who’ve done our country proud. And I believe Mother Teresa might point out here that she is most certainly not an American but a daughter of Yugoslavia, and she has not spent her adult life in this country but in India. However, it simply occurred to us when we wanted to honor her that the goodness in some hearts transcends all borders and all narrow nationalistic considerations.

Some people, some very few people are, in the truest sense, citizens of the world; Mother Teresa is. And we love her so much we asked her to accept our tribute, and she graciously accepted. And I will now read the citation.

Most of us talk about kindness and compassion, but Mother Teresa, the saint of the gutters, lives it. As a teenager, she went to India to teach young girls. In time, Mother Teresa began to work among the poor and the dying of Calcutta. Her order of the Missionaries of Charity has spread throughout the world, serving the poorest of the poor.

Mother Teresa is a heroine of our times. And to the many honors she has received, including the Nobel Peace Prize, we add, with deep affection and endless respect, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

[At this point, the President presented the award to Mother Teresa.]

May I say that this is the first time I’ve given the Medal of Freedom with the intuition that the recipient might take it home, melt it down and turn it into something that can be sold to help the poor. [Laughter]

And I want to thank you for something, Mother Teresa. Your great work and your life have inspired so many Americans to become personally involved, themselves, in helping the poor. So many men and women in every area of life, in government and the private sector, have been led by the light of your love, and they have given greatly of themselves. And we thank you for your radiant example. (more…)

Published in: on June 20, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 20, 1985: Medal of Freedom for the Saint of the Gutters  
Tags: ,

June 12, 1987: Tear Down This Wall

Ronald Reagan, champion of freedom, the greatest President of my lifetime.  That was a President, when comes another?


Published in: on June 12, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 12, 1987: Tear Down This Wall  
Tags: ,

Forty Years Ago: Reagan Christmas Address


On December 23, 1981, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation.  The video above is an excerpt from that speech.  The portion of the address dealing with the attempt by the then Polish Communist regime to crush Solidarity, the Polish labor union leading a movement for freedom that would ultimately be the spark that destroyed Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, is omitted.  A few things struck me about the address:

1.  When is the last time a president quoted G.K. Chesterton?

2.   Reagan’s reference to children as a gift from God.

3.   His reference to Christ’s first miracle being His coming to humanity as a helpless babe.

They don’t make them like Reagan anymore, and more is the pity.  Here is the text of his address: (more…)

Published in: on December 23, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Forty Years Ago: Reagan Christmas Address  
Tags: , ,

Ronald Reagan on Memorial Day

Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad.

Pope Benedict XVI

My fellow Americans, Memorial Day is a day of ceremonies and speeches. Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember they gave their lives so that others might live.

We’re also gathered here for a special event—the national funeral for an unknown soldier who will today join the heroes of three other wars.

When he spoke at a ceremony at Gettysburg in 1863, President Lincoln reminded us that through their deeds, the dead had spoken more eloquently for themselves than any of the living ever could, and that we living could only honor them by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they so willingly gave a last full measure of devotion.

Well, this is especially so today, for in our minds and hearts is the memory of Vietnam and all that that conflict meant for those who sacrificed on the field of battle and for their loved ones who suffered here at home.

Not long ago, when a memorial was dedicated here in Washington to our Vietnam veterans, the events surrounding that dedication were a stirring reminder of America’s resilience, of how our nation could learn and grow and transcend the tragedies of the past.

During the dedication ceremonies, the rolls of those who died and are still missing were read for three days in a candlelight ceremony at the National Cathedral. And the veterans of Vietnam who were never welcomed home with speeches and bands, but who were never defeated in battle and were heroes as surely as any who have ever fought in a noble cause, staged their own parade on Constitution Avenue. As America watched them—some in wheelchairs, all of them proud—there was a feeling that this nation—that as a nation we were coming together again and that we had, at long last, welcomed the boys home.

“A lot of healing went on,” said one combat veteran who helped organize support for the memorial. And then there was this newspaper account that appeared after the ceremonies. I’d like to read it to you. “Yesterday, crowds returned to the Memorial. Among them was Herbie Petit, a machinist and former marine from New Orleans. ‘Last night,’ he said, standing near the wall, ‘I went out to dinner with some other ex-marines. There was also a group of college students in the restaurant. We started talking to each other. And before we left, they stood up and cheered us. The whole week,’ Petit said, his eyes red, ‘it was worth it just for that.'”

It has been worth it. We Americans have learned to listen to each other and to trust each other again. We’ve learned that government owes the people an explanation and needs their support for its actions at home and abroad. And we have learned, and I pray this time for good, the most valuable lesson of all—the preciousness of human freedom. (more…)

Published in: on May 28, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Ronald Reagan on Memorial Day  
Tags: , ,

May 17, 1981: Reagan at Notre Dame

The Reagan Foundation has a great section in which you can access the personal diary of President Ronald Reagan.  Here is his diary entry from forty years ago:

Change signals on Prince Turki—he left for Saudi Arabia today by commercial plane. An easy morning with the Sunday papers—my exercises and then boarded the chopper & Air Force 1 for South Bend Ind. Had lunch on board with Walter & Lee Annenberg. Father Hesburgh met us at the airport and we drove to Notre Dame. It was commencement for 2000 graduates but there must have been 15,000 all told in the auditorium. Pat O’Brien was there also to get an honorary degree. It really was exciting. Every N.D. student sees the Rockne film and so the greeting for Pat & me was overwhelming. Speech went O.K. and I was made an honorary member of the Monogram Club. When I opened my certificate I thought they’d made 2 copies—they hadn’t, the 2nd was to “The Gipper.” He died before graduation so had never been made a member. Got back to the plane wringing wet—Cap & Gown plus an “iron” vest makes for heat. Discovered a service I hadn’t been aware of—a change of clothing is always carried when I go on a trip. Change in this case meant a welcome dry shirt. Dinner on T.V. in front of “60 Minutes”—oh yes—on the plane called Bob Dole re our tax plan. He’s having breakfst with Rep. Rostenkowski, Sen. Long & Rep. Barber Conable.

The best President of my lifetime.  May he now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

Published in: on May 27, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 17, 1981: Reagan at Notre Dame  
Tags: ,

Rawhide Down

Forty years ago, on March 30, 1981, delusional Jodie Foster fan John Hinckley, in an attempt to attract the attention of the actress, came close to assassinating President Ronald Reagan, whose Secret Service codename, a tribute to his Western roles as an actor, was Rawhide.

Reagan had just finished a speech at the Washington Hilton, when Hinckley left off six shots. One bounded of the Presidential limousine and entered Reagan through his left underarm, breaking a rib, puncturing a lung and causing serious internal bleeding. Reagan was near death when he arrived at George Washington University Hospital. Reagan walked into the hospital because no stretch was ready, waving to bystanders. Inside he collapsed. His superb physical condition for a 70 year old, and the quick work of the emergency room team saved his life. Later in surgery Reagan quipped that he hoped they were all Republicans. His surgeon, a Democrat, responded that they were all Republicans today.

Reagan left the hospital on April 11. His recovery speed was remarkable, but his recovery was not complete until October. His close call left Reagan with the conviction that God had spared his life for him to serve some higher purpose.

Hinckley shot three other men that day.

White House Press Secretary James Brady was hit in the head by the first round. He would survive but with permanent mental impairment. He passed away at age 73 in 2014.

DC cop Thomas Delahanty was hit in the back of the neck by the second round, the bullet ricocheting off his spine. He would survive and retire from the force due to nerve damage to his left arm from the shooting.

Alfred Antenucci, a labor official from Ohio, charged Hinckley, hit him in the head, and wrestled him to the ground. Secret Service agents were pushing Reagan into the limousine, and probably saved him from being shot in the head by the third round.

Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy, shielding the President with his own body, was shot in the lower abdomen by the fourth round, McCarthy making a full recovery.

The fifth round hit the bullet resistant window of the open rear door, and the sixth bullet hit Reagan.

Hinckley was by this time subdued by bystanders and a Secret Service agent.

Oddly since 1840 every American President elected in a twenty year repeating sequence died in office. The unsuccessful attempt on the life of Reagan broke that bad streak.

Hinckley was found not guilty due to insanity and was committed to Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington. Beginning in 2006 he was allowed to spend time with his mother and was released full time to live with her in 2016. Being deranged caused Hinckley to fit right in with the rogue’s gallery of Presidential assassins.

Published in: on April 8, 2021 at 5:30 pm  Comments Off on Rawhide Down  
Tags: , , ,

April 2, 1983: Reagan on Passover and Easter

My fellow Americans:

This week as American families draw together in worship, we join with millions upon millions of others around the world also celebrating the traditions of their faiths. During these days, at least, regardless of nationality, religion, or race, we are united by faith in God, and the barriers between us seem less significant.

Observing the rites of Passover and Easter, we’re linked in time to the ancient origins of our values and to the unborn generations who will still celebrate them long after we’re gone. As Paul explained in his Epistle to the Ephesians, “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. So then you were no longer strangers and aliens, but you were fellow citizens of God’s household.”

This is a time of hope and peace, when our spirits are filled and lifted. It’s a time when we give thanks for our blessings-chief among them, freedom, peace, and the promise of eternal life.

This week Jewish families and friends have been celebrating Passover, a tradition rich in symbolism and meaning. Its observance reminds all of us that the struggle for freedom and the battle against oppression waged by Jews since ancient times is one shared by people everywhere. And Christians have been commemorating the last momentous days leading to the crucifixion of Jesus 1,950 years ago. Tomorrow, as morning spreads around the planet, we’ll celebrate the triumph of life over death, the Resurrection of Jesus. Both observances tell of sacrifice and pain but also of hope and triumph.

As we look around us today, we still find human pain and suffering, but we also see it answered with individual courage and spirit, strengthened by faith. For example, the brave Polish people, despite the oppression of a godless tyranny, still cling to their faith and their belief in freedom. Shortly after Palm Sunday Mass this week, Lech Walesa faced a cheering crowd of workers outside a Gdansk church. He held his hand up in a sign of victory and predicted, “The time will come when we will win.”

Recently, an East German professor, his wife, and two daughters climbed into a 7-foot rowboat and crossed the freezing, wind-whipped Baltic to escape from tyranny. Arriving in West Germany after a harrowing 7-hour, 31-mile journey past East German border patrols, the man said he and his family had risked everything so that the children would have the chance to grow up in freedom.

In Central America Communist-inspired revolution still spreads terror and instability, but it’s no match for the much greater force of faith that runs so deep among the people. We saw this during Pope John Paul II’s recent visit there. As he conducted a Mass in Nicaragua, state police jeered and led organized heckling by Sandinista supporters. But the Pope lifted a crucifix above his head and waved it at the crowd before him, then turned and symbolically held it up before the massive painting of Sandinista soldiers that loomed behind. The symbol of good prevailed. In contrast, everywhere else the Holy Father went in the region, spreading a message that only love can build, he was met by throngs of enthusiastic believers, eager for Papal guidance and blessing. (more…)

Published in: on April 3, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: ,

Reagan Interview With Carson



Something for the weekend.  Hail to the Chief in reference to President Ronald Wilson Reagan:


Today is the 110th birthday of Ronald Reagan, a birth date which I happily share.  On January 3, 1975 he was interviewed by Johnny Carson.  This was unusual because Carson rarely interviewed politicians, attempting to keep The Tonight Show free of political involvement.  The length is also unusual in that Reagan spoke with Carson for over a half hour.  Carson personally was a moderate to liberal Republican, although throughout his adult life he attempted to be resolutely apolitical in public.  Reagan had just finished his second term as Governor of California, and was beginning to contemplate a run for President in 1976.  He did so and came within a hair’s breadth of taking the nomination from President Ford, that unsuccessful run giving him valuable experience for his victorious campaign for the White House in 1980.  The interview is now a fascinating time capsule from 46 years ago.


Published in: on February 6, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,