- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Gardens, roads, medical centers, schools, one mountain and a missile silo: They are among 62 sites around the globe already named for former President Ronald Reagan — with more in the works. And some want to see Mr. Reagan’s face on their currency and his name on the Pentagon.

But naming is not an easy process.

“There will be arguments over these naming campaigns for a generation,” said Grover Norquist, a tax-cut advocate who founded the District-based Ronald Reagan Legacy Project in 1997 to promote the naming of public landmarks after the nation’s 40th president.

“Mr. Reagan publicly and repeatedly humiliated the Democrats over the years, and he stripped away the left’s sense of moral superiority. They never got over it. Consequently, naming landmarks after him remains a bone of contention,” Mr. Norquist said.

But the acrimony won’t go on forever, he thinks.

“The argument will die out when this particular generation of Democrats dies out. Their kids did not buy into their beliefs, so they won’t see the point of it all,” Mr. Norquist said.

All are not convinced that the Reagan name should become a public fixture, however.

“I don’t see a reason to name things after Ronald Reagan,” said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the District-based Center for Economic Policy and Research.

“He was an influential president, but it’s not clear that his influence was for the better. Mr. Reagan’s economic policies were mostly a failure, and his foreign policy supported some of the worst human rights abuses of the entire post-World War II period, particularly in Central America,” Mr. Weisbrot said.

House Democrats issued a delicately worded statement when the naming issue came before them in 1998.

“Although we strongly oppose the bill to rename Washington National Airport after President Reagan, our opposition should not be construed as a lack of appreciation for President Reagan’s achievements or a lack of sympathy for his serious illness,” the statement said.

Rep. Mark Souder, Indiana Republican, meanwhile, wants to remove former President Franklin D. Roosevelt from the dime and replace him with Mr. Reagan.

Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, plans to introduce legislation today to remove former President John F. Kennedy from the half-dollar and put Mr. Reagan’s image on that coin.

“President Kennedy has been there for 41 years. This doesn’t take away from Kennedy’s legacy in any way, but it will honor the 40th president,” said Dan McFaul, press secretary for Mr. Miller.

Mr. Kennedy replaced Benjamin Franklin on the half-dollar in 1963. Mr. Roosevelt’s face has been on the dime since 1946, just a year after his death, when he replaced the Winged Liberty insignia.

Replacing Mr. Roosevelt may be difficult. Nancy Reagan asked Mr. Souder in December to withdraw his legislation. He hasn’t, and the bill was referred to a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.

“We’ve taken the same position as Mrs. Reagan. She said she understands that people want to honor Ronald Reagan, but this is not the way to do it,” said David Woolner, executive director of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, a nonprofit organization in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and the brother of the former president, declined comment about the proposed change to the half-dollar.

Other Republicans also are trying to get Mr. Reagan’s image on the $10 bill or $20 bill.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, offered amendments Monday to a defense bill to rename the Pentagon, as well as the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, after the former president.

But in the meantime, existing Reagan “dedications” are varied and far-flung.

There is a Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands and a Ronald Reagan Circle in the Polish city of Tarnow.

Florida’s Turnpike, a 312-mile highway down the eastern part of the state, was renamed the Ronald Reagan Turnpike in 1998. Ohio, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado, California and New York also boast significant roads named after the Gipper.

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