Remembering Reagan

Texas Tech has a unique connection to Ronald Reagan.

On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley Jr., a former Texas Tech student, shot the president as he was getting into a car.

Although the assassination attempt failed, Reagan was seriously wounded and needed a lengthy recovery time to return to full power.

It’s not a pleasant one, but it’s a connection nonetheless. And it’s something to remember as the United States lays to rest one of its icons – in politics, in entertainment, and in so much more.

Ronald Reagan did so much for the United States. He guided the country through a difficult time, and he did it with grace, but still with force. He put an end to the Iran hostage crisis, demonstrating his respect for human life as well as his strength and the strength of the United States. He deserves the most credit for putting an end to the Cold War and the uneasy quasi-alliance between the United States and the U.S.S.R., and he did it without offending the Soviets, as evidenced by Mikhail Gorbachev’s planned presence at the funeral.

Reagan, a Republican, did good things for his party without sacrificing the good of the United States. He crossed party lines to get things done. He is credited with Reagonomics, the progressive style of economizing that set up the prosperous economy we enjoyed during the 1990s.

Most of us, beyond the obscure link above, and him being the first president our generation remembers, don’t have a connection with Reagan. It affects us most because we don’t have to go to class tomorrow.

But it’s never too late. Reagan symbolized many things during his time – the working man, the ability to succeed despite the odds (Reagan was twitted during a debate because he was older than the typical presidential candidate. He calmly responded that perhaps his opponent was too young to be entrusted with such an important job.), and the ability to stand strong in the face of a serious crisis and remain loyal to values.

That’s the connection we have with Reagan. We can commemorate his life by sticking to the values he practiced.

Stare adversity in the face and refuse to back down. Know when to show strength and when to show compassion. Remember the importance of one human life, but don’t forget the value of a nation.

Say “I do” at the altar, mean it, and live it. Ronald and Nancy were still in love on the day that he died. She stuck by him through what had to have been the hardest 10 years of her life. Remember, “for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health” is literal.

Find compromise. Gorbachev, Reagan’s adversary during the Cold War, isn’t going to the funeral to make jokes about old Ron. He’s going because he respected Reagan. The leaders of the the two countries capable of wiping out all life on earth with a button, worked to find a mutually agreeable solution, under the shadow of mutually assured destruction.

Aim high. Jay Leno talked about how he met President Reagan once, and Reagan asked if Leno was a good student. Reagan then said, “I was only a C+ student. Imagine how much farther I could have gone if I had applied myself.”

Do something with your day of mourning tomorrow. Use it to remember a great man and what he contributed. Pay tribute to his memory by standing for something, as he did. Use your life to make a difference.