Thursday, January 19, 2006

Friday, Jan. 20, is 25th anniversary of Reagan's inauguration

Mike's America is marking the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's first inauguration into the presidency. It's hard to believe that 25 years have come and gone in that time frame. Anyway, Mike is soliciting Reagan memories, so I'll list mine.

I'm showing my age here, but Ronald Reagan defeated James Earl Carter in the 1980 landslide (44 states to Carter's 6) about 2 - 3 weeks before my ninth birthday. Therefore, all I really recall at that time was the joy shared the next morning by my parents. While I knew and cared nothing about politics, I still recall my mother telling me the next morning that Reagan had won. She's not very political, but she was happy about the outcome. Dad was even more ecstatic, especially since he was still active duty in the Marine Corps and was presumably looking forward to having a real Commander-in-Chief.

I didn't follow much of Reagan's first term, except when he was almost killed by a crazy assassin. I do remember finding it funny that Reagan reportedly said on the operating table to the surgeons: "I hope you're all Republicans!" For those of you on the left, that was a joke.

I had to follow the election of 1984 because I was in a 7th grade history class that compelled us to follow it. Still knowing and caring nothing about politics, I dreaded having to watch conventions and debates. I do remember that I was getting sleepy watching Walter Mon-dull giving his speech at the DNC convention, until I thought I heard him say "Mr. Reagan will raise your taxes, I will raise your taxes. He won't tell you this, I just did." I snapped out of my doze and thought: "Did he just promise to raise taxes?!? Holy crap, if I could vote, why would I vote for a guy who wants to raise my taxes?"

It was all downhill for Mondale after that. He lost the union vote. He lost the female vote. He even lost a high percentage of Democrat votes! Mondale went on to lose 49 of 50 states, winning only his home state of Minnesota by a scant 4500 votes! Reagan, always the witty guy, contacted his campaign manager the next morning and asked dryly: "What happened in Minnesota?" Process that for a moment: Reagan won liberal states like New York and Massachusetts, for crying out loud!

So my childhood memories of Reagan are fond, but limited. I know that my father was honored to serve under him, as were countless other former soldiers with whom I've spoken over the years. I learned more about Reagan as I got older, and I'm glad that I did. This country was lucky to have a leader that loved his country, loved his military, and had a vision of optimism that has been shared by few other presidents in history. He is greatly missed.