More Reagan Remembrances
Those young people aren't young anymore. We're middle aged, and the world bears little resemblance to the one we grew up in. It is, despite its obvious ills, a lot better.I was writing some emails to some younger friends (20-somethings) trying to explain why Reagan was such a big deal. I was not quite a teenager yet but I knew Nixon resigned in disgrace, Ford was the target of assasination twice, Carter grew old in front of our eyes, the economy was a basketcase and the USSR seemed as powerful as the Empire in the Star Wars movies.
Whatever impressions nostalgic TV shows may leave with those too young to remember the real decade, the late 1960s and 1970s were a scary time to grow up. The world just kept getting worse and worse, and nobody seemed to know why.
Many of his conservative allies, taught by the terrors of the 20th century, firmly believed that history is a tragedy, that the best we can do is to fight a long, twilight struggle. They believed that evil is as strong as, perhaps stronger, than good, and that tyranny is more powerful than freedom. At the time, I believed them too.
Reagan believed in the triumph of good and the strength of freedom. He acted on those convictions, and he was right.
Reagan came along in 1980 and as he was sworn in as President in January 1981, the Iranian hostages were released and there was possibility in the air. Then, the news was filtering throughout my high school: Reagan had been shot and at the hospital, Brady was dead (incorrect but Brady was seriously wounded), a Secret Service agent wounded and a looney guy with a handgun had been arrested.
Hope was dashed. The world was still mad afterall. No one could do the job of President.
But Reagan survived the wounds and the nation eventually rallied with his buoyant spirit and policies.
Reagan was derided for being simplistic with statements about "morning in America," USSR as "Evil Empire" and America as a "shining city on a hill."
But sometimes the simple is the profound because they are true and provide hope.