Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday President Reagan!

Ronald Reagan was the President of my childhood.  (I was born during Carter's term but fortunately too young to remember any of it.)  I remember seeing Reagan on TV and hearing his strong, sincere voice.  Partly because he is the first President I remember, and partly because he was such an inspirational leader, but he was and always has been my model for what a leader is supposed to be.

My grandfather was a staunch Republican, and donated to the GOP for years.  He gave me this button when I was a little girl:

Yes, I've been a Republican for a looooooong time :)
My all-time favorite Reagan speech is the one he gave on June 12, 1987, at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.  This is the day when he made the famous demand, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"  It is important to remember that Reagan's speechwriters and advisers did not want him to be so aggressive and direct, and kept deleting these words from drafts of the speech, wanting him to instead offer more conciliatory words merely hoping for a peaceful resolution.  Wisely, Reagan rejected their advice and insisted that his words stay in the speech.  Today, more than thirty years later, those six words remain the most memorable he spoke that day.

Here is the speech, in its entirety, posted by the Reagan Foundation:

YouTube | ReaganFoundation | President Reagan's Address at the Brandenburg Gate - 6/12/87

The section where he requests that Gorbachev tear down the Wall starts at the 11 minute mark.  Note also the very next section of the speech, where he discusses how America's strong and unyielding stance forced the Soviets back to the negotiating table.  (Ahem...ahem...the current occupant of the White House would be well-advised to learn from this example.)

For more on Ronald Reagan, check out this excellent two part story from the L.A. Times (yes, really) with some great photos and video:

L.A. Times | Ronald Reagan's birth centennial, Part I: Politics came late in his life

L.A. Times | Ronald Reagan's centennial, Part II: An All-American American

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