- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

Today marks the 93rd birthday of Ronald Reagan. It’s a bittersweet occasion. Although two years ago, Mr. Reagan became the longest-lived president in United States history, he has spent most of his last days in twilight.

To honor Mr. Reagan’s memory is to see the light in that darkness. Writing his first inaugural address with the nation’s misery index approaching 20 percent and 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, Mr. Reagan boldly penned the words, “We have every right to dream heroic dreams.” Years later, at the Brandenburg Gate, Mr. Reagan declared, “I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.” When announcing that he had been stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease, Mr. Reagan affirmed, “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”

Mr. Reagan’s optimism was founded in fact and sustained by faith. Mr. Reagan was well-versed in the Founding Fathers — he recognized that their hands had crafted shining cities from a dark wilderness. He saw that Americans were among the most productive people on the earth. Mr. Reagan understood human nature well enough to see how contrary it was to communism. He was so confident of his judgement that in a 1975 radio broadcast, he called communism “a form of insanity … which will one day disappear from the earth.”

Like the birthdays of less extraordinary individuals, this day is an occasion for both reflection and renewal. It is also a day to renew one’s commitment to the ideals Mr. Reagan lived by — a day to resolve to follow his injunction to “act worthy of ourselves.” It is also a day to send Mr. and Mrs. Reagan their memories and their thanks. The Reagan Foundation has set up a Web site for that purpose. Click on www.reaganfoundation.org and follow the instructions.

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