Celebrating the legacy of Ronald Reagan

13 years ago

In early 1983, the Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky was in an eight-by-ten foot cell in a Siberian prison when jailers permitted him to read the latest issue of the official Communist Party newspaper.
The front page was filled with global condemnations of American President Ronald Reagan for calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” Tapping on the walls and whispering through plumbing pipes, political prisoners spread the word. Rather than being demoralized by the criticisms, they were ecstatic. The leader of the free world had spoken the truth. There was hope.     By the end of the decade, hope became freedom, freedom for the hundreds of thousands imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag and for the hundreds of millions trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Countless men and women of courage and determination, their names lost to history, stood up to tyranny and won a great victory with a leader whose name will forever be remembered by history. Lech Walesa, the founder of the valiant Solidarity movement, said this of President Reagan: “We in Poland… owe him our liberty.”
In this centennial year, we are experiencing something rare. While many great figures of their time diminish over time, our regard for Ronald Reagan only grows. This cannot be explained by merely citing the qualities for which he was so well known: his confidence in America, his wit and his optimism. It goes beyond his courage when attacked by an assassin’s bullet or, at the end, a devastating disease, or even his skills as the “Great Communicator.”
Ronald Reagan’s legacy grows ever larger because of his ideals, and the enduring convictions that gave those ideals their power. “History comes and goes,” President Reagan said, “but principles endure and inspire future generations to defend liberty, not as a gift from government, but a blessing from our Creator.”
Ronald Reagan knew that liberty was not a blessing merely to enjoy, but one that must always be defended. He expressed his faith in our ability to rise to its defense with these words: “No weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.” His optimism sprang from his belief in the nobility of the human spirit.
The very ideals that are the foundation of this great nation were the foundation of Ronald Reagan’s character. He became President at a time when America had begun to question its place in the world and the values upon which this nation was built. He tore down the wall of doubt and reminded us that our many blessings carried with them great obligations. Ronald Reagan was a great communicator because he had something great to communicate: the exceptionalism of the United States of America.
Ronald Reagan was the right leader for his time. He now belongs to the ages. He is missed, but his ideals live on and will continue to inspire us for generations to come.