- - Friday, October 31, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Oct. 27 marked the golden anniversary of President-to-be Ronald Reagan’s speech “A Time for Choosing.” Three days after the speech, on Oct. 30, 1964, a ninth-inning rally was held for Sen. Barry Goldwater in Los Angeles. The featured speaker was none other than Reagan. Back then I was a grad student doing some volunteer work for the Los Angeles County Republican Committee, which sponsored the event. I was given a VIP ticket that gave me a seat close to the dais.

The election was five days away and it was clear to those attending the event that Goldwater was headed for defeat. Still, the crowd was thrilled to see the senator and thanked him with a loud, five-minute standing ovation.

As Reagan stood up and walked toward the podium, the place erupted. A mass of thousands of men and women cheering, yelling, whistling and standing on chairs waved napkins and chanted his name. This continued for 22 minutes. As Reagan spoke, the applause and cheers continued. Here was a man telling all of us what we knew in a way that we had not heard before. He knew and we knew that Americans were good, that patriotism was good and that our country was that “shining city upon a hill.”

It is important to understand that 50 years ago Reagan was known only as a movie and TV star. Most of us did not think we were listening to a future governor or president. What the country watched on television on Oct. 27, 1964, what those of us at the rally heard on Oct. 30, 1964, was a message that started a national movement toward a more conservative view of effective government.

A country that can put a man on the moon, elect a president who would usher in an extended period of economic growth and end the Cold War, and have college students capable of beating a Russian hockey team in the Olympics is exceptional. Or as the Gipper might put it, “That’s a pretty good start.”

ED NICHOLS

Montgomery Village

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