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|Needless Commentary from Small-Town America|
The Weblog at The View from the Core - Fri. 06/11/04 07:18:05 AM
Ronald Wilson Reagan, RIP
In His Own Hand; Photographs; and, the Great Communicator.
Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States of America, is laid to rest today.
IN HIS OWN HAND
Here are two documents in Reagan's own hand that have been published recently in books. The first, a radio broadcast; the second, a letter.
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Shaping the World for 100 Years to Come
In this election year many of us talk about the world of tomorrow but do we really think about it? I'll be right back.
Sometimes it's very easy to get very glib about how the decisions we are making will shape the world for a hundred years to come. A few weeks ago I found myself faced with having to really think about what we are doing today & what people like ourselves will say about us.
I'd been asked to write a letter for a "time capsule" which would be opened 100 yrs. from now. The occasion will be the Los Angeles Bicentennial & of course our countrys tri-centennial. It was suggested that I mention some of the problems confronting us in this election year. Since I've been talking about those problems for some 9 months that didn't look like too much of a chore.
So riding down the coast highway from Santa Barbara a yellow tablet on my lap (someone else was driving) I started to write my letter to the future.
It was a beautiful summer afternoon. The Pacific stretched out to the horizon on one side of the highway and on the other the Santa Ynez mt's. were etched against a sky as blue as the Ocean.
I found myself wondering if it would look the same 100 yrs. from now. Will there still be a coast highway? Will people still be travelling in automobiles, or will they be looking down at the mountains from aircraft or moving so fast the beauty of all this would be lost?
Suddenly the simple drafting of a letter became a rather complex chore. Think about it for a minute. What do you put in a letter that's going to be read 100 yrs. from now in the year 2076? What do you say about our problems when those who read the letter will know what we dont know namely how well we did with those problems? In short they will be living in the world we helped to shape.
Will they read the letter with gratitude in their hearts for what we did or will they be bitter because the heritage we left them was one of human misery?
Oh I wrote of the problems we face here in 1976 The choice we face between continuing the policies of the last 40 yrs. that have led to bigger & bigger govt, less & less liberty, redistribution of earnings through confiscatory taxation or trying to get back on the original course set for us by the Founding Fathers. Will we choose fiscal responsibility, limited govt, and freedom of choice for all our people? Or will we let an irresponsible Congress set us on the road our English cousins have already taken? The road to ec. ruin and state control of our very lives?
On the international scene two great superpowers face each other with nuclear missiles at the ready poised to bring Armageddon to the world. Those who read my letter will know whether those missiles were fired or not. Either they will be surrounded by the same beauty we know or they will wonder sadly what it was like when the world was still beautiful.
If we here today meet the challenge confronting us, those who open that time capsule 100 yrs. from now will do so in beauty, peace, prosperity and the ultimate in personal freedom, consistent with an orderly, civilized society.
If we dont keep our rendezvous with destiny, the letter probably will never be read because they will live in the world we left them, a world in which no one is allowed to read of individual liberty or freedom of choice.
[Reagan: In His Own Hand (2001), ed. Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, pp. 9f.]
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Reagan responds to a request from a writer putting together a book on how people have overcome setbacks and tragedies in early life. He recalls early events in his own life that seemed tragic at the time but turned out not to be so.
Miss Elena Kellner
Dear Miss Kellner:
Thank you very much for your letter and for wanting to include me in your book.
There have been major setbacks of the kind you described in my life, moments of tragedy, and yet, I don't know that I have an experience that would fit the pattern that you have described in your question. Let me explain. I guess my mother gave me a greater faith than I knew but I have realized it as the years have gone on. I was taught from the very beginning and accepted the idea that when all else fails, you then turn to God and put it in his hands. In connection with that faith, she also convinced me that when things happen that we can't understand or that seem as terrible setbacks, we must try to believe that everything happens for a reason and for the best and if we simply deal with it and trust in God, there will come a time when we will understand why that particular thing happened, and we will discover that because of it, something better resulted.
Let me give one example that was not a great tragedy but, at my particular age and at that particular time seemed so: I got out of college in the depths of the Depression in 1932. The government was putting announcements on the radio urging people not to leave home looking for work because there was none. I had decided that I wanted to get into radio, and I had decided that what I wanted to be in radio was a sports announcer. I didn't listen to the government announcements. I went hitchhiking around the Midwest simply asking at radio stations for a job, a job of any kind so that I could get in the studio and then would take my chances with working up to sports announcer. Finally, after weeks of this, I hitchhiked my way home, arriving in a downpour of rain.
My mother told me that a new Montgomery Ward store had opened in our small home town and was looking for someone known to the people in town for having had athletic experience to manage the sporting goods department.
This wasn't radio, of course, or sports announcing. But remember, it was 1932 and it was a job. Wet and bedraggled as I was, I went right down and was interviewed for the manager. I must have looked like a bum, and I realized I wasn't going over very well. The next day I found that a local high school athlete of more recent vintage had been given the job. It was a very low moment, but again, that faith that my mother had given me was sustaining.
The next day, I hitchhiked out again, 75 miles in the opposite direction, where there was another radio station, walked in, stated my case and was told they had just hired a young man to break in as an announcer the day before.
This was a little too much for me, and on the way out the door, I mumbled, "how does a guy ever get to be a sports announcer if he can't get a job in a radio station?" I reached the elevator. But before it arrived at that floor, the program director I'd been talking to, a wonderful old Scotsman, crippled with arthritis hobbling on canes, caught up with me, and said, "what is that you said about being a sports announcer?" And I told him of my ambition. He asked me if I knew anything about football. Well, I'd played the game for eight years through high school and college. The upshot of it was I was given a tryout. I broadcast a Big Ten football game for the station and that began my career in radio. As you can see, I look back on that Montgomery Ward job and understand very well why I didn't get it. But down through the years, there have been other moments, some of tragedy.
There were only four in our family my mother and father, my brother and I. My brother and I had never known grandparents. All of them had died before we were born, so you can imagine when my father died of a heart attack, it literally was the first experience with death for any of us. It was a very traumatic experience. But again, I have to say that faith that I mentioned was there. And all through my life, when those moments have come, when I've felt as if I have gone my limit and can do no more, I have turned and asked God to help. And somehow, he always has. I don't know if this can be of any help to you. But it's the best I can do with regard to your questions. Again, it was good to hear from you and thanks for asking.
[Reagan: A Life in Letters (2003), ed. Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, pp. 681f.]
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Here are some Reagan photos not the ones you usually see.
THE GREAT COMMUNICATOR
Here are links to a few of Reagan's speeches; to some remarks by Lady Margaret Thatcher; to an essay by Reagan; and, to a debate with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, with excerpt.
Here are what I believe to be his first and last televised speeches that were broadcast to a national audience.
His inaugural addresses.
Here are four speeches that, according to Reagan's speechwriter Peter Robinson, trace the story of his victory in the Cold War.
Next, Reagan's speech at the dedication of the Cold War Memorial, Westminster College.
Next, Thatcher's remarks at Reagan's 83rd birthday party and his own remarks.
Now, his landmark essay "Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation".
Finally, his televised 1967 long-distance debate with Bobby Kennedy.
From the debate:
.... COLLINGWOOD: Governor Reagan, what do you think as a governor of a great state of the effectiveness of American civil rights legislation?
REAGAN: Well, I think with all of the disorders we've lost sight of some of the progress that has been made. There can be no question that in this country, well, I guess in all the world there is the heritage of those people who mistrust those who are different, and when you have and history tells us, when you've had a people enslaved, you have a much harder time. It is not just a racial or ethnic or religious difference. There is a prejudice that remains.
Now, I happen to believe that the greatest part of the problem lies in the hearts of men. I think that bigotry and prejudice is probably the worst of all man's ills the hardest to correct. And in addition to legislation which guarantees and enforces our constitution and our constitution and it differs from the constitutions of many of the countries represented there by the young people. Many constitutions promise their people the same things that ours does, but there's one subtle and yet very great difference. Those constitutions in many other countries say the government grants to the people these rights and our constitution says you are born with these rights just by virtue of being a human being, and no government can take them from you. Now we've found it necessary to legislate, to make it more possible for government to exert its responsibility to guarantee those constitutional rights.
At the same time, we have much more that can be done in the area of just human relationships. I happen to bridge a time span in which I was a radio sports announcer for major league sports in our country, in athletics, many years ago. At that time the great American game of baseball had a rulebook whose opening line was: "Baseball is a game for Caucasian gentlemen." And up until that time, up until World War II, there'd never been a Negro play in organized major league or minor league baseball in America. And one man defied that rule a man named Branch Rickey of one of the major league teams, and today baseball is far better off and our country is far better off because he destroyed that by handpicking one man and putting him on his baseball team, and the rule disappeared.
Now I don't say this is the only answer, but we must use both, and I think the people in positions like ourselves like the Senator and myself, like the President of the United States, can do a great deal of good, perhaps almost as much as proper legislation, if we take the lead in saying those who operate their businesses or their lives on a basis of practicing discrimination and prejudice are practicing what is an evil sickness. And that we would not knowingly patronize a business that did such a thing, and we urge all right-thinking people to join us and not patronize that business. Soon we will make those who live by prejudice learn that they stand alone, that they're ...
COLLINGWOOD: Excuse me, Governor, Andrew Verzar, our Swiss student, hasn't been on yet....
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Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine,
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