Reagan's "Shining City on a Hill"
June 20, 2004
"And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home." Those were the words spoken at the closing of Reagan's farewell address, and will live on as long as America itself.
His former speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote, "What an era was his. What a life he lived. He changed history for the better and was modest about it. He didn't bray about his accomplishments but saw them as the work of the American people." When asked what the legacy of his Presidency would be, He said modestly and reluctantly that he, "advanced the boundaries of freedom in a world more at peace with itself." His policy of "peace through strength" expanded freedom to unlikely places. His policies drove the Soviet Union bankrupt while He expanded the boundaries of freedom beyond the Iron Curtain, ending a yoke of bondage for entire civilizations, people who could never have voted for him, have a better life because of him. That legacy was admirable but not possible without a strong personal conviction in the decency and wisdom of the individual, across the entire globe. Ronald Reagan was an optimist and a true man of courage. He gave us a New World and led us to global economic prosperity and optimism about the future of the world. Ronald Reagan: a conviction based leader. He genuinely believed in his ideals and in the worth and dignity of people, regardless of age, creed or stature.
Reagan endeavored to give credit where credit was due. He had a sign on his desk: "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." Ronald Reagan demonstrated that rich quality. Never was a victory his, but they were ours, as Americans.
Ronald Reagan was a man of personal detail. In Kiron K. Skinner's book released in September 2003 entitled Reagan: A Life of Letters, the author profiles the 40th President through Reagan's over 1,000 letters that he personally penned. Reagan, through his letters, comes through solidly as a modest, plainspoken man driven by high idealism, and hopes and faith in people. There was a time when to many it appeared that Reagan dealt only with the larger issues and cared little for detail. But, in truth, he was a very detailed person who examined almost every issue with a fine tuned barometer of principle and realism. So, strong was his personal principle that He often ignored his advisors to follow his vision for America.
It was in Ronald Reagan's character that he never took himself too seriously. We remember, the lighter moments, the familiar nod of his head and a bit of a wink in his eye. As proud as he was to be President and his respect for the Presidency, he regarded himself as a temporary occupant. "This is the people's house," he often said, and felt as he did while growing up, "living above the store." Like most successful leaders, Reagan had developed a set of core beliefs long before he came to the presidency. He saw America as a nation with a special mission. That America should be symbol of justice where strength, freedom and values are king. He had a trust in the people and a love for freedom, rooted in the wisdom of the Founders. Indeed, more than once, he sounded like one of them. Ronald Reagan: President, Commander -in- Chief, Leader, and Role model: He has given all America and much of the world, a brighter dawn ahead "as a shining city on a hill." As captain of the ship of state, he calmed the troubled waters and provided reassurance to the traveling pilgrims that freedom was within all of us, and America was the world's model. Margaret Thatcher said in her Eulogy, "We here still move in twilight. But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had. We have his example." That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.