Why are some men and women different? Why do those rare ones come along at times of crisis to lift the veil of apathy from the eyes of mankind, and stir the passions for a great and common cause? The simple answer may be that they have a rendezvous with destiny, and if so, surely, Ronald Reagan was one of those who kept his appointment.
Reagan's 1964 speech for Barry Goldwater was the turning point for many of us in our youth. Not all of us were part of the Woodstock generation as portrayed in documentaries, but rather, idealists on the Right, and the libertarian part of the ideological scale who searched for something old, yet new again; a messenger to preach the gospel of personal accountability, and to make the light in liberty's torch burn brightly before the world. Ronald Reagan was that man, who spoke to our heart of hearts.
There is not a day that goes by when I cross Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans that I do not think of him, his family and how he changed the world, or how he influenced my life, and my belief in a fundamental adherence to right and wrong no matter the costs, when all about you capitulate. Power never corrupted him; nor weakness ever seduced him. His eyes were always fixed on the future, and the shining city on a hill.
Leadership is a hard thing to define, but the essence of it is found in his words: "Whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way."
Young people who aspire to be real leaders would do well to study his life, experience his character, unique optimism and fairness, and his conviction that there were no problems for Americans, only solutions if the government and self-serving politicians would just get out of the way of a free people. As President Reagan said, "Some may try and tell us that this is the end of an era. But what they overlook is that in America every day is a new beginning, and every sunset is merely the latest milestone on a voyage that never ends. For this is the land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming."
On June 5, 2004, Ronald Reagan gently slipped across the bar Tennyson spoke of: "Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark; For tho from out our bourne of Time and Place, The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face, When I have crossed the bar."
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