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Friday, February 18, 2011

What Ronald Reagan Means to me

Originally published on BigPeace

February 2011


Ronald Reagan—Inspiration for Personal Development


The first Presidential election I was old enough to vote was 1980, Ronald Reagan’s first successful run. My journey during his two terms was a miracle—from a lost anti-American liberal to a proud American veteran and conservative. Was that a coincidence? Or was it leadership?
I was a 20 year old, maggot-infested, long-haired, skull-full-of-mush product of liberal brain-washing. I read Time magazine every week, and watched Walter Cronkite on the 6 o’clock news. I’d spent twelve years in National Education Association controlled public schools. I knew that Joseph McCarthy was bad, that Richard Nixon had done something really bad and was “Tricky.”

I knew that it was cool to “party.” That drinking and marijuana were ways to open your mind and show how counter-culture you were. I knew that Ronald “Raygun-zzzz,” like they pronounced it on the Woodstock album, was a whacky old kook.
As I looked for my voter registration card, I couldn’t have cared less about the vote. I had no appreciation of my country, my freedom, or the grave responsibility that our country entrusted me with—the right to vote.

Drinking a six-pack every night, everything was pretty much a fog to me. I’d screwed up, big time, flunked out of college. Now I waited for the date to report to Air Force basic training. Riding my ten-speed over the Roanoke River, up the hill to Gaston for a four hour shift the in mini-mart a couple times a week kept me busy.

Faced with the momentous decision, Jimmy Carter, or Ronald Reagan, I threw away my vote. Thank God I didn’t vote for Carter, but I didn’t vote for Reagan either. Something I’d read in National Lampoon stuck with me when I went to the fire station that day, and I wrote in “Nobody.” What a waste.
Basic training in San Antonio started a week after President Reagan’s inauguration, the end of January 1981. Sobered up, I started a slow progression to reality. Basic whipped a little discipline into me. Vietnamese language training and technical training showed me that I could learn, and had a talent for languages, and a passionate interest in Asia.

Three years in the Philippines kept my interest in Asia alive, and opened my eyes to the beauty of America.

Discharged and back in college, it was President Reagan’s second term. Of course, I’d voted for the Gipper the second time around, fully aware and sober.

Being a veteran in a university, during the long peaceful Cold War interregnum, was eye-opening. I saw the liberal bias and vile anti-Americanism on campus, directed at President Reagan.

Ronald Reagan was my hero now. He stood up to the communists, who I now understood, after studying the Vietnam war, and communism, were exactly what President Reagan called them—evil. And he stood up to the American friends of the communists, the Progressives, liberals—Carter, the Kennedys, McGovern, Jesse Jackson, and the press.

Every day, I realized more and more how right President Reagan was, in foreign policy and in domestic policy. By 1989, when President Reagan left office, I was teaching at a university in Saudi Arabia, after working in a refugee camp in Southeast Asia.

Every day, I thanked God I was an American, and that my country was a shining beacon of hope, freedom, and prosperity for the world. I was proud to be a Reagan American.

Ronald Reagan, reviled by the Progressive haters, and denigrated by the liberal press, was the ideal of American humility, humor, dignity, honor, and quiet determination to do the right thing.

Ronald Reagan’s presidential administration coincided with my own coming of age, and emergence from a liberal haze of ignorance and weak-minded following.

Ronald Reagan was a real American hero. An original and a role model. With his philosophical and moral guidance, we all had a chance to glimpse his shining city on a hill. Did you?
Was it a coincidence that I made the journey from a lost liberal to American conservative during President Reagan’s time in office? What do you think?

1 comment:

Mark Schember said...

One of the phrases from those days stuck with me; "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" A self described former freind "Dyed in the wool liberal" told me in the late 80's that if I believed in gun control and other conservative issues that I could not be a liberal. I denied it! But it began an opening of my awareness to politics beyond the liberal programming. I interviewed a local Republican on term limits on a public acess show I produced and hosted and couldn't even correctly pronounce "Gingrich" because I'd never really heard of him, but by the early 90's Id been introduced to Rush Limbaugh and soon became a "Dittohead" and formed a significant knowledge of politics from devotedly listening to his show for a decade. The mush had begun to form into grey matter.