Tags: Presidential History | gipper | khomeini | soviet

Reagan Can Still Teach a Divided America Much

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By Thursday, 28 January 2021 02:09 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Thirty-two years ago, President Ronald Wilson Reagan delivered his farewell address to the American people in a finale to what remains a monumental White House tenure.

But while Reagan’s achievements have echoed across the intervening decades, he delivered his address without gusto, instead sticking to that pure, reserved manner that was a Reagan hallmark.

Indeed, ourn ationa's 40th commander in chief's farewell to Americans was one of humility and poise.

He knew he was leaving the country better than he’d found it; yet, he wasn’t going to shove it in anyone’s face. Looking over Reagan’s farewell, I still find myself inspired.

Even as Washington D.C. has become militarized and even as Joe Biden leads a Democratically controlled Congress into Washington, I can’t help but feel like we have a golden opportunity to build something better, both for the GOP and the nation, but most especially for the American people.

Perhaps Reagan’s greatest gift was his ability to see America for the great country it has been in the past and what it could be in the future.

For example, "The Gipper" mentions being able to look out across the same view that Abraham Lincoln once held from the White House windows.

“Someone said that's the view Lincoln had when he saw the smoke rising from the Battle of Bull Run. I see more prosaic things: the grass on the banks, the morning traffic as people make their way to work, now and then a sailboat on the river.”

There is humor there, but this is just one instance of Reagan’s deep appreciation for the history of our country and the historical importance of the office he held.

He understood that our nation, for all its flaws, has always been a truly great one capable of bringing about real change — globally. He states as much further down in the address when reflecting on the domestic and foreign policy achievements of his presidency:

“The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we're a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world.”

Indeed, the United States and its allies had changed the globe for the better, creating a more prosperous international community and finally toppling the evil empire of the Soviet Union plaguing much of Europe during latter half of the 20th century.

Much was achieved, but it also serves to remind us that today, the United States and her friends face many of the same challenges to freedom.

The Soviet Empire has been replaced by the brutal specter of Communist China, while countries like Iran, Venezuela, and Russia continue to suppress freedom within their borders.

As Reagan cogently noted, "the gulag was still the gulag."

America has contested with these nations under Trump to varying degrees of success.

But regardless of who holds office, a point we should take to heart is that the U.S. continues to hold a solemn duty of leading the free world against such tyrants.

We can't go it alone, and just as during the Cold War we must maintain robust alliances to fight tyranny wherever we find it, and when we can, negotiate for a better future.

To borrow from Reagan’s address, “We must keep up our guard, but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust.”

The final lesson I think we should infer from rereading Reagan’s farewell is that fact I mentioned earlier, that is, the humility with which he delivered it.

Reagan, unlike our outgoing president, was able to admit his regrets and mistakes, such as not being able to lower the deficit further. And, most importantly, he had the wisdom to recognize that national pride, while important, is meaningless without being based in grounded fact.

“This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge. An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?”

I would say we are falling short here.

The political Left wants to teach that America is, to quote the Ayatollah Khomeini, the "Great Satan."

We are a great nation with a heavily flawed history, from slavery to segregation to our treatment of the Native Americans.

But we are a much better place today, if not perfect, and those facts are what need to be imparted to our children. Doing so will go a long way toward healing the partisan divide currently fraying the fabric of the country.

Our goodness far outweighs our mistakes.

Three decades on from the end of Reagan’s presidency, America stands at a threshold.

We have a lot of work to do both at home and abroad.

But I take comfort in the fact that we still have a chance to be a great country and to correct the course of division we are  currently find ourselves on.

The world will be watching us more closely the ever in the coming years. Let’s take Reagan’s advice and be that beacon for those "hurtling through the darkness, toward home."

This was a great man, who led America in great times, who won in two great landslides.

Ronald Reagan was and remains one of our greatest presidents.

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include ''Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,'' ''Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America,'' "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and ''Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of The New York Times bestseller, ''December 1941,'' and his new 2019 book, ''Mary Ball Washington,'' a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater, and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. Read Craig Shirley's Reports — More Here.

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CraigShirley
We have a lot of work to do both at home and abroad. But I take comfort in the fact that we still have a chance to be a great country and to correct the course of division we are  currently find ourselves on.
gipper, khomeini, soviet
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2021-09-28
Thursday, 28 January 2021 02:09 PM
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