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The Spirit of Ronald Reagan
Why the Gipper is still admired

By Wayne Swanson

2/5/2001

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This is a rather emotional column for me. I have been thinking about President Reagan and his lovely wife Nancy quite a bit lately. As sad as it is to say, Ronald Reagan may not be long for this world. It saddens me that the day will come when we will lose this shining example of a true American Patriot.

Here is a man that instilled a new spirit in America. The late seventies were a time of high inflation, high unemployment and low American self-esteem. Men that had laid their lives on the line for the Red, White and Blue in Southeast Asia were treated like lepers. The media pounded us daily with plant closings, violence, flag burnings, interest hikes and the "I hate Americans and Jews" hijacking du jour.

It seemed hopeless. As Americans, we were hated and had no reason to love ourselves. We were bombarded with hatred from all corners of the world. Many of our own citizens even paraded before cameras to tell us how awful we were as a people. Respect? We had no reason to think there was anything of the type when it came to the worldview of America. Then came Dutch...

In 1980, we elected a man to the presidency that would change the way we looked at ourselves. He would change our attitude and maybe even our ethics. Ronald Reagan brought something special to the office of the presidency. Here was a man that truly loved America and wore his patriotism on his sleeve. He was a godly man that was proud to be an American and over time, he made us proud again, too.

Politics aside... conservative or liberal, libertarian or reformed, we all had to know that his love for America always came first and his political ideals were secondary. Here was a man that said and believed, "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." How true... and how insightful.

In a way, Ronald Reagan sat at our dinner tables. He had a way of talking directly to us rather than appearing to be a talking head. He believed in America, he believed that we were the luckiest people on the planet to be living here. He let us know in the way he spoke of his country. During all his years of public service, he spoke directly to our hearts. President Reagan held his title and his office in the highest regard and we could see it in the way he carried himself.

Dutch was no "amiable dunce." He was certainly amiable but his intellect was cleverly hidden behind his next-door neighbor personality. Recently discovered manuscripts reveal the wealth of his knowledge. Reagan knew the issues and just where he stood on them. Decisions were of the heart and mind, polls were not the final arbiter of his platform.

Maybe I am biased. After all, I've always thought that if you took Ronald Reagan, Andy Griffith and James Garner and rolled them together, you would see my dad. I see a lot of my dad in Ronald Reagan and feel like I know him just a little bit better because of it. I have seen nothing that would dissuade me from that. You can tell a lot about a man by the way he lives. He may say what he will but I will judge him by the life he leads.

I still see that magnetic smile, I can see the twinkle of his eye. A man for whom I hold the highest respect and admiration. A man a serviceman could respect and for whom many would take a bullet. A man who commands my respect because of the example he set and the life he led. A man who deserves love and admiration from all.

The immortal words ring true, President Reagan... I'd take a bullet for you. May you never leave the consciousness of America... and may your presence be felt forever.

Wayne Swanson is a light commercial contractor and software developer. His interest in political "punditry" began during the election fiasco of 2000. His opinions and commentary are exposed at the Ardent American.

Wayne Swanson, 2001

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