It was as if the day were scripted in Hollywood by the pen of Frank Capra, inclusive of pomp and pageantry, dreams and high drama, culminating at high noon, no less, all as the world watched.
In Washington, D.C., January 20, 1981, was cold and cloudy, but as Ronald Wilson Reagan took the oath, the overcast sky parted and a ray of sunshine fell upon the western front of our nation’s Capitol. Across the globe in Iran, 52 Americans hostages were loaded onto a plane and finally released following 444 days of captivity.
The Reagan era had officially begun with a cheer and a sigh of relief.
Ronald Reagan was the first president I voted for. I’m proud to have placed my trust in the man and his administration. In many ways, I credit President Reagan with helping to shape my view of the proper role of government, of advocating for controlling spending instead of raising taxes, as well as seeing the wisdom of maintaining peace through strength and standing strong for moral ideals, including the sanctity of life, regardless of price or popularity.
My first vote for President Reagan came after some thoughtful soul-searching. Although I shared most, if not all, of his ideological perspectives, Governor Reagan campaigned on a promise to reduce the Social Security Beneficiary Benefit. Having been orphaned, I was receiving this assistance and depended on it to help make ends meet. For me, a vote for Reagan was a vote that would come at a price – as in dollars and cents.
I weighed the options and came to the conclusion that I was to do what Mr. Reagan was urging all Americans to do: sacrifice for the sake of the country, give up in order to bring about American rebirth and revitalization. I worked two jobs in college and found joy in the honor of honest employment.
Thirty years later, I wonder: Are we still willing to sacrifice for the sake of society at-large? Do we still see this country as President Reagan did, as a shining city on a hill, populated by selfless people willing to give and not get?
Bathed in warm sunlight and with emotion in his voice, President Reagan put forth a great charge on that cold afternoon, one that remains relevant today. A man of strong Christian faith, the new President was invoking the teachings of Jesus, even though he did so in subtle terms:
We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen; and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they’re sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory? Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic “yes.”
Thank God for the memory and life of Ronald Reagan.