Today, Ronald Reagan died at the age of 93.
When Reagan was running for the Presidency through 1980, I was a junior in high school, and I was mortified at the prospect of someone I considered to be a warmonger brought into the Presidency. I felt certain that if he were brought into office in January of 1981, I would never live to see my high school graduation in May.
Well, he was, I did, and the rest is history.
I served in the military during the tail end of the Reagan years, and the first part of the Bush years (which I really think was a pale continuation of the Reagan Presidency). Those time were good. When I went in the service, the nuclear terror was still there, and by the time I left four years later, the Soviet Union was gone, the Berlin Wall had fallen, and the Cold War was over. I left the Air Force after one tour of duty, thinking there was not much use for the military career since the Soviets were gone. Almost twelve years later, my complacency would be proved wrong when the attacks on this country took place in the fall of 2001.
Legacy? Well, the thing I believe is the lasting legacy of his administration is that there is no longer the spectre of The Evil Empire lobbing a thousand nuclear warheads at us. That was the terror I grew up with. And for the decade of the 90s, I slept better knowing that I was much more likely to wake up the next morning to the world that was there when I lay down to rest, rather than waking to a nuclear wasteland.
As an adult, my fear of Reagan has melted into respect. I’m now convinced that with his combination of old school defensiveness, diplomacy and terrific oratory skills, he was probably the only one who have led us through the troubled waters of the Cold War of the ’80s.
Now, in the early part of the 21st century, the nuclear terror seems almost quaint, like reminiscing about the antics of the schoolyard bully of youth. The danger now is alleged to come from all sides, with weapons far of more deadly consequences, and so much more ease of production and deployment.
May my former Commander-in-Chief rest in peace, and may his family feel God’s hand upon their hearts during this tough time.