by Gerald Boerner

  

JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today’s posting honors the birthdate of the fortieth president, Ronald Reagan. He was born in a small town in Illinois, grew up playing football, and became a “B-Rated” movie star. After years in the movie industry, including terms as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, he turned conservative and entered politics.

He became more conservative and won the Governorship of California after a series of liberal governors. This led to his eventual campaigns for the presidency, which he lost in 1984 (in the primaries) but won in both 1980 and 1984. He will be remembered for his anti-communist position as well as his eventual relationship with Gorbachov and establishment of “détente”. Also under his presidency the fall of communism in Europe ended the Cold War.

We were all sadden when he announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  GLB

    

“A people free to choose will always choose peace.”
— Ronald Reagan

“A tree’s a tree. How many more do you need to look at?”
— Ronald Reagan

“All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”
— Ronald Reagan

“But there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.”
— Ronald Reagan

“Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.”
— Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan Born in Illinois

REAGAN WH Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911 – 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975). Prior to his political career Reagan was also a famous motion picture actor and president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Born in Tampico, Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles, California in the 1930s. He began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in 52 movie productions and gaining enough success to become a household name. Though often described as a B film actor, he starred in Knute Rockne, All American and Kings Row. Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric (GE); his start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

REAGANMONEYSPEECH2 Reagan gives a televised address
from the Oval Office, outlining his
plan for Tax Reduction Legislation
in July 1981

As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed “Reaganomics”, advocated reduced business regulation, controlling inflation, reducing growth in government spending, and spurring economic growth through tax cuts. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered military actions in Grenada. He was reelected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming it was “Morning in America”. His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, namely the ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an “evil empire”, he supported anti-Communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries’ nuclear arsenals.

Reagan left office in 1989. In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease earlier in the year; he died ten years later at the age of 93. He ranks highly among former U.S. presidents in terms of approval rating, but has a more mixed perception in presidential surveys.

Governor of California, 1967–1975

GOV REAGAN Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrate
Reagan’s gubernatorial victory at the
Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

California Republicans were impressed with Reagan’s political views and charisma after his “Time for Choosing” speech, and nominated him for Governor of California in 1966. In Reagan’s campaign, he emphasized two main themes: “to send the welfare bums back to work”, and regarding burgeoning anti-war and anti-establishment student protests at the University of California at Berkeley, “to clean up the mess at Berkeley”. He was elected, defeating two-term governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, and was sworn in on January 3, 1967. His swearing-in occurred at 9 minutes past midnight. Reagan explained in 1988 that this time was chosen because his predecessor, Edmund G. Brown, “had been filling up the ranks of appointments and judges” in the days before his term ended. Professor Marcello Truzzi, a sociologist at Eastern Michigan University who studied the Reagans’ interest in astrology, regarded this explanation as “preposterous”, as the decision to be sworn in at that odd time of day was made six weeks earlier, and was based on advice from Reagan’s long-time friend, the astrologer Carroll Righter.

In his first term, he froze government hiring and approved tax hikes to balance the budget. Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the presidential waters in 1968 as part of a “Stop Nixon” movement, hoping to cut into Nixon’s Southern support and be a compromise candidate if neither Nixon nor second-place Nelson Rockefeller received enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican convention. However, by the time of the convention Nixon had 692 delegate votes, 25 more than he needed to secure the nomination, followed by Rockefeller with Reagan in third place.

NIXONSandREAGANS The Reagans meeting with
then-President Richard Nixon
and First Lady Pat Nixon in
July 1970

Reagan was involved in high-profile conflicts with the protest movements of the era. On May 15, 1969, during the People’s Park protests at UC Berkeley, Reagan sent the California Highway Patrol and other officers to quell the protests, in an incident that became known as “Bloody Thursday”. Reagan then called out 2,200 state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for two weeks in order to crack down on the protesters. When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst in Berkeley and demanded the distribution of food to the poor, Reagan joked, “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.”

Early in 1967, the national debate on abortion was beginning. Democratic California state senator Anthony Beilenson introduced the “Therapeutic Abortion Act”, in an effort to reduce the number of “back-room abortions” performed in California. The State Legislature sent the bill to Reagan’s desk where, after many days of indecision, he signed it. About two million abortions would be performed as a result, mostly because of a provision in the bill allowing abortions for the well-being of the mother. Reagan had been in office for only four months when he signed the bill, and stated that had he been more experienced as governor, it would not have been signed. After he recognized what he called the “consequences” of the bill, he announced that he was pro-life. He maintained that position later in his political career, writing extensively about abortion.

Despite an unsuccessful attempt to recall him in 1968, Reagan was re-elected in 1970, defeating “Big Daddy” Jesse M. Unruh. He chose not to seek a third term in the following election cycle. One of Reagan’s greatest frustrations in office concerned capital punishment, which he strongly supported. His efforts to enforce the state’s laws in this area were thwarted when the Supreme Court of California issued its People v. Anderson decision, which invalidated all death sentences issued in California prior to 1972, though the decision was later overturned by a constitutional amendment. The only execution during Reagan’s governorship was on April 12, 1967, when Aaron Mitchell’s sentence was carried out by the state in San Quentin’s gas chamber.

Reagan’s terms as governor helped to shape the policies he would pursue in his later political career as president. By campaigning on a platform of sending “the welfare bums back to work”, he spoke out against the idea of the welfare state. He also strongly advocated the Republican ideal of less government regulation of the economy, including that of undue federal taxation.

The Presidency: First term, 1981–1985

The_Reagans_waving_from_the_limousine_during_the_Inaugural_Parade_1981 The Reagans wave from the limousine
taking them down Pennsylvania Avenue
to the White House, right after the
president’s inauguration

To date, Reagan is the oldest man elected to the office of the presidency (at 69). In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, which Reagan himself wrote, he addressed the country’s economic malaise arguing: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”

The Reagan Presidency began in a dramatic manner; as Reagan was giving his inaugural address, 52 U.S. hostages, held by Iran for 444 days were set free.

During this term, the following were the prominent events:

  • Assassination Attempt
  • Air Traffic Controllers’ Strike
  • “Reaganomics” and the Economy
  • Lebanon and Grenada, 1983
  • Escalation of the Cold War
  • 1984 Presidential Campaign
The Presidency: Second term, 1985–1989

Reagan was sworn in as president for the second time on January 20, 1985, in a private ceremony at the White House. Because January 20 fell on a Sunday, a public celebration was not held but took place in the Capitol Rotunda the following day. January 21 was one of the coldest days on record in Washington, D.C.; due to poor weather, inaugural celebrations were held inside the Capitol.

President_Reagan_being_sworn_in_for_second_term_in_the_rotunda_at_the_U.S._Capitol_1985 Ronald Reagan is sworn in for a
second term as president in
the Capitol Rotunda

In 1985, Reagan visited a German military cemetery in Bitburg to lay a wreath with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. It was determined that the cemetery held the graves of 49 members of the Waffen-SS. Reagan issued a statement that called the Nazi soldiers buried in that cemetery “victims”, which ignited a stir over whether he had equated the SS men to Holocaust victims; Pat Buchanan, Director of Communications under Reagan, argued that the notion was false. Now strongly urged to cancel the visit, the president responded that it would be wrong to back down on a promise he had made to Chancellor Kohl. He attended the ceremony where two military generals laid a wreath.

The disintegration of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986 proved a pivotal moment in Reagan’s presidency. All seven astronauts aboard were killed. On the night of the disaster, Reagan delivered a speech written by Peggy Noonan in which he said:

The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave… We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’

During this term, the following were the prominent events:

  • War on Drugs
  • Libya Bombing
  • Immigration
  • Iran-Contra Affair
  • End of the Cold War
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Judiciary
Post-presidential years, 1989–2004

Reagans_early_1990s Ronald and Nancy Reagan in
Los Angeles after leaving the
White House, early 1990s

After leaving office in 1989, the Reagans purchased a home in Bel Air, Los Angeles in addition to the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara. They regularly attended Bel Air Presbyterian Church and occasionally made appearances on behalf of the Republican Party; Reagan delivered a well-received speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Previously on November 4, 1991, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated and opened to the public. At the dedication ceremonies, five presidents were in attendance, as well as six first ladies, marking the first time five presidents were gathered in the same location. Reagan continued to publicly speak in favor of a line-item veto; a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget; and the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, which prohibits anyone from serving more than two terms as president. In 1992 Reagan established the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award with the newly formed Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. His final public speech was on February 3, 1994 during a tribute to him in Washington, D.C., and his last major public appearance was at the funeral of Richard Nixon on April 27, 1994.

Alzheimer’s disease

In August 1994, at the age of 83, Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable neurological disorder which destroys brain cells and ultimately causes death. In November he informed the nation through a handwritten letter, writing in part:

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

     

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1788…
    Massachusetts becomes the sixth state to ratify the Constitution.
  • In 1862…
    The Union wins its first major victory in the Civil War, with the capture of of Fort Hood on the Tennessee River.
  • In 1899…
    The Senate ratifies the treaty ending the Spanish-American War.
  • In 1911…
    Ronald Reagan, the fortieth U.S. president, is born in Tampico, Illinois.
  • In 1971…
    Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard hits three golf balls on the moon.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Ronald Reagan…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan

Web Sites and Blogs:

BrainyQuote.com: Ronald Reagan Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ronald_reagan.html