President Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5th because of pneumonia following nearly a decade of Alzheimer’s disease, will be remembered throughout the world as a great communicator motivated by faith, with innumerable contributions, most notably, ending the Cold War resulting in the collapse of Communism. He won two landslide elections with broad support from both Democrats and Republicans and invigorated conservatism. No other President had won an election by such a huge electoral margin since Franklin Roosevelt defeated Alfred Landon in 1936. Furthermore, President Reagan left office as one of the most likable presidents since WWII.
There are other contributions by Mr. Reagan that many people are unaware of. When a teenager, Reagan served as a lifeguard near Lowell Park, IL. He is credited with saving 77 lives and after each rescue, he would form a notch on a log near the swimming area. Once the log washed away, he was presented a bronze plaque by the community for his lifesaving accomplishments.
In America’s God and Country, by William Federer, I learned that President Reagan signed the bill into law on January 25, 1988 declaring the “first Thursday of each May to be recognized as a National Day of Prayer.” He also designated 1983 as the national “Year of the Bible,” as “authorized and requested by a Joint Resolution of the 97th Congress of the United States of America.” Both of these legislative actions would be especially difficult today, nearly 20 years later, because of the judicial activists on the irreligious Left. Mr. Reagan also published an essay propagating his views on the sanctity of human life entitled “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation” in The Human Life Review in 1983.
I heard a poignant anecdote by Michael Reagan as guest on Dr. Dobson’s radio program. Michael told the story of a woman who wrote President Reagan because she had a particularly needy child. President Reagan responded by personally mailing the mother a check for her troubles. Upon receiving the check, the recipient decided not to cash it because the value of the check from the President would be greater if not cashed. Somehow, Reagan discovered that the check had not yet been cashed and he made a personal phone call to the mother. To her consternation, Reagan instructed her to cash the check and then he stated that once he received the same check from his banker, he would be certain to mail it directly back to her. What an example of unconditional beneficence and compassion!
In Dr. Dobson’s June newsletter, I read a story regarding Gary Bauer, who served in the Reagan Administration. Bauer shares that he would regularly have lunch meetings with the President. According to Dobson, on one occasion, he told the President “about a little girl in Bloomington, Indiana, who was suffering from severe life-threatening complications associated with Downs Syndrome.” The child’s parents received poor medical advice and rather than seeking treatment, the baby was “rolled into the corner of the hospital nursery where a sign was hung on the crib” that stated, “Do not feed.” Evidently, a Christian nurse called the White House after observing this deplorable situation. As Gary told the President, he noticed that his colleagues “flinched” because they feared that such a story would not be deemed worthy of the President’s time. When Bauer looked at Reagan, he saw that “he had tears in his eyes.” President Reagan was so moved by Bauer’s account of the desperate child that he “ordered the Justice Department seek to protect her from those who would allow her to die.”
President Reagan was a man of compassion and conviction. Some of his harshest critics have come to acknowledge and respect his accomplishments. Mr. Reagan once stated “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 be a bright dawn ahead.” Let us do our part as Americans, despite our political differences, to make America’s future more favorable, as President Reagan envisioned for upcoming generations.
Copyright 2004 by Matthew Pasalic