- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2001


In February 1998, in celebration of Ronald Reagan's 87th birthday, Congress passed a law to rename Washington's National Airport after America's 40th president. Public Law 105-154 required that "any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the Washington National Airport shall hereafter be known and designated as the 'Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.' "
Three years later, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and its General Manager Richard White are in violation of this law for refusing to change signs to reflect this dedication. Recently Rep. Bob Barr, a board member of the Reagan Legacy Project, insisted that funding be withheld if Metro does not make these changes soon.
Some of President Reagan's strongest critics, like Rep. Jim Moran, argue that "Metro does not have the money to waste on political symbolism." But he never objected to the recent renaming of the green line's U-Street Station to recognize the heroes of the Civil War; a station that now reads "U St/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo."
Not surprisingly, Marc Fisher of The Washington Post has come out in support of Messrs. Moran and White. He argues that to comply with public law and change the Washington National Airport signs would cost $400,000; never mind the fact that nobody really knows where such a figure was concocted.
If, as Mr. Moran has recently suggested, Metro is "scraping together every dime to meet the commuter demands of their customers" then why did it bother to rename the Mt. Vernon Square station on the yellow line, "Mt. Vernon Square/7th St-Convention Center?" And if Metro is really strapped for cash then why doesn't Mr. Moran (and others) object to the $22,000 bill that must be paid in order to replace all 1,445 of the transit agency's buses with new District license plates that read, "Taxation Without Representation?"
As Rep. Connie Morella has rightfully acknowledged, "how many potholes could you fill with $22,000?"
Metro has had three years and numerous opportunities to update its signs in an efficient manner such as during a recent brash of silly name-extending schemes like changing the Woodley Park station on the Red Line to "Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan." Follow the law; it's just that simple. States do it all the time when accepting federal money.
The dedication of government properties after distinguished heroes is an act of kindness. Occasionally people disagree with a particular renaming but they hold their fire and quietly remind themselves of other existing dedications they have supported against the wishes of others.
After all, John F. Kennedy has some 600 dedications in his honor none of which were ever protested by conservatives. One of the most prominent dedications was the renaming of Idlewild airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport; and for $1.50 people living in Manhattan can travel on the public bus system whose ultimate destination reflects this name change.
The real reason for Metro's sluggish action in changing its airport signs (and Mr. Moran's opposition) may in fact be the man who would be honored by such a change: Ronald Reagan. Their recalcitrance is unjustified. Changing the Metro signs to reflect the legacy of Mr. Reagan is to pay tribute to the American values of honesty, hard work and optimism that he so cherished.
Conservatives should rightfully be up in arms at Mr. Moran's childlike opposition. It is the responsibility of those who first became active in the conservative movement through the result of Mr. Reagan's electoral success and vision to promote his legacy. After all, Mr. Reagan's policies are the source of conservative philosophy today. They laid the foundation for the "Contract with America" and are the basis of "Compassionate Conservatism."
The Reagan Legacy Project seeks to fulfill this mission by supporting dedication efforts in each of the 50 states and in all 3,067 counties in America as well as in former communist countries. Some of the more high-profile dedication efforts include declaring his boyhood home a national historic landmark, placing him on Mt. Rushmore and on the $10 bill. It was Mr. Reagan, after all, who made our money worth something with his fiscal policies that led to unprecedented economic expansion.
Mr. Reagan taught us that "a government that's big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away." The name of Ronald Reagan and his legacy are under attack and need to be defended because it only becomes easier to attack a man's legacy after he can no longer defend himself.
Mr. Reagan's legacy is a proud one. It embodies everything about what it means to be a conservative and, more importantly, an American.

David W. Kralik is executive director of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project.


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