- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

Goodbye, Mr. President

My wife, Mary, and I fought back tears while watching the many tributes to President Reagan this weekend. I was a young black performer honored with singing at one of the inaugural balls in Washington after Mr. Reagan won the presidency. In a press interview, I was perplexed by the look of surprise on the reporter’s face when I stated that I liked Mr. Reagan and thought he was a great man. The reporter’s eyebrows were further raised when I added that every time I heard Mr. Reagan speak, I felt good about my country, the future and myself.

Ronald Reagan spoke to us all as Americans, one body of various shades. He never practiced the politics of dividing people into warring voting blocs. This man made me feel like I was part of something great and wonderful. Mr. Reagan made me proud to be an American, not an African-American, an American.

LLOYD MARCUS

Deltona, Fla.

I never voted for Ronald Reagan, but I certainly regret it now. The lackluster Democrats who ran against him, Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, and the occupiers of the White House who served after him, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were just not in his league as chief executive material. I wish we had him now. I cannot imagine another president, except perhaps, FDR, better suited to putting the hammer down on the geopolitical scourge of terrorism.

RICK NEUMANN

Bethesda

One of our greatest presidents has died. Although it is a great loss to the world, it is an end to his suffering and to the enormous burden on Nancy Reagan and the rest of his family.

What would we have done without him? What would have happened under lesser leaders, if Mr. Reagan had not led the way?

God bless the soul of Ronald Reagan, and God bless us all. We need it.

ROBERT A. GISMONDI

Reseda, Calif.

With the passing of President Reagan, every freedom-loving man from Berlin to Vladivostok and from Gdansk to Managua feels that he has lost a most dear friend and most powerful ally.

Farewell, gentle warrior, and thanks for the wonderful eight years.

JOSE L. MARTINEZ

Washington

A true patriot has passed. A man with a vision for America. A man who believed in the greatness of this nation.

The world owes him an unattainable payment of debt. Millions suffered under communism and millions perished. He forced the Soviet leader to his knees and brought about the fall of the Berlin Wall. His actions reunited a divided Germany and never once did he gloat.

He believed in America as a bright shining light in a cold and dark night. He had a code of simple beliefs: stand in strength yet offer compassion.

Let’s remember Ronald Reagan as a man who loved his nation, our nation. Let’s grasp hold of his hope and optimism. Let us believe in his eternal faith in the goodness of America. We as a nation must hold on to his vision. We must persist in maintaining his vision of liberty and freedom for all mankind.

God bless Ronald Reagan, and God bless America.

SAMUEL TRIPPI

Summerville, S.C.

Having been born only a year before Ronald Reagan was elected president, it is difficult for me to recall his presidency and the events surrounding it. Indeed, for me and many members of my generation, it is easy to see the end of the Cold War and the economic explosion of the last quarter century as mere historical inevitabilities.

But it would be unwise to do so. If we are to learn one fundamental lesson from President Reagan and his generation, it must be that no danger is too great, no threat too near and no enemy too wicked, that the strength of America and the innate goodness of her people cannot overcome. As Mr. Reagan said in 1981, “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.”

CHRISTOPHER ARMSTRONG

Washington

Ronald Reagan has died. I had never met him. Most Americans of my generation hadn’t either. Yet his death evokes in me a sense of sadness because he was such a large part of my childhood.

In kindergarten, my mother let me skip a day of school to watch his inauguration. I don’t remember knowing who this person was, for whom they were throwing this big parade, or why this big white building where he was standing with his hand on the Bible was important to me, but I knew that it was a significant moment and was happy to sit on our avocado, green shag carpet and watch it.

Not long after, I was in first grade and walking in a line behind Mrs. Lawrence, our teacher, when the principal walked by to tell her that Mr. Reagan had been shot.

I was in sixth grade when Challenger fell from the sky. We listened to Mr. Reagan’s voice piped into our classrooms over the public address system. I stood on a table while listening to him. I remember nothing of what he said, but I remember him being there, in some sense, with us in the tragedy.

I was in junior high when Mr. Reagan demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall. I knew little of German politics, or the greater politics of the Cold War, but I felt his words with the conviction he spoke them.

Times have changed and the presidency today is not the same as in Mr. Reagan’s time. He was the last president I feel that we as a country, respected. For those of us who grew up during his time in office, whether we now agree with his politics and policies or not, I would like say that I am grateful for his service, for his genuine love for this country and for his part in my childhood.

KELSEY HOPPE

Washington

Much of who I am today I credit to Ronald Reagan. He inspired my love of America and my interest in public policy and political science. I credit him for my belief in the necessity of freedom and liberty in the world and my view that America should always be willing to defeat tyranny wherever it is found. Mostly, however, Mr. Reagan’s America showed to me the power and potential of a people not bridled by the overreaching hand of government.

Many people have derided and dismissed Mr. Reagan for his black-and-white approach to issues, yet history has repeatedly shown the rightness of his actions. To this day, my thoughts of President Reagan are imbued with the starry-eyed optimism of a teen-age boy filled with thoughts of a great and prosperous future. I will forever love Ronald Reagan’s America and what it has given to me and so many others.

TODD EBERLY

Columbia, Md.

Although it is a sad day for America, the life of former President Ronald Reagan is a tribute to everyone who demands and expects the best of each us, both individually and together. He was not afraid to pursue these ideals, nor did he shy from battling the forces of tyranny or relativism. For all that he did, it is what Mr. Reagan was that remains significant; he was a force for the freedom and integrity of all people.

Although we are diminished, we greet the new dawn of America undaunted. Although we move forward through the shadow of an unknown future, our values simply cannot be muffled. Mr. Reagan’s death is more than a reminder of the values he held. It is a reminder that each of us has a duty and a commitment to reach for our best and to stand together to embrace the new day.

DANIEL C. KLOKE

Horseshoe Bay, Texas

Over the next few weeks, much will be said about the life and times of Ronald Reagan. The great majority of Americans loved and respected the man. As is always the case, some agreed with his politics and some didn’t. Of the latter, many have tried to minimize his accomplishments. Though I don’t agree, this is America and that is their right.

As for me, there is no doubt. Ronald Reagan did end the Cold War, and he confronted the malaise that gripped this country with an unswerving optimism based on his endless faith in the strength and goodness of the American people. He was my hero, and I am one of those who loved him.

KEN CARROLL

Clifton

Like so many veterans of World War II, Ronald Reagan now belongs to the ages. To both, we owe a gratitude that is immeasurable. Still, the fight for freedom remains an ongoing one, as difficult now as it always has been. Yet, if we muster the same courage and determination that our veterans and our late president displayed in the struggles they fought, we ultimately shall prevail in ours.

CHARLES H. RIEPER

Columbus, Ohio5

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