The Character Counts Meme posts every first and third Tuesday of the month. I’d love to have you join me for spotlighting, celebrating and honoring people of good character, who’ve led exemplary lives and who’ve lived with honor, integrity, dignity and sacrifice, and those who’ve inspired others by overcome great obstacles in their own lives. I believe that when we celebrate and exhort good character traits, we can turn the tide, and see more of them. At least I’d like to try! If you are joining us, please leave your name and link at the Mr. Linky down below and don’t forget to leave a comment! Blessings!
They say timing is everything, and I have to admit, for this meme, so far that has proven to be true. Once again, it was really easy to choose the person I wanted to spotlight and honor for Character Counts. And yet again it is has to do with timing, though I really didn’t plan it that way, it’s just how the calendar lined up with the Character Counts schedule. Since we’ve just celebrated President’s Day, I’ve chosen to spotlight and honor someone I look up to greatly – President Ronald Reagan.
While this was an easy choice, it is also a daunting task. President Ronald Reagan was a great president, great leader, and great man of God. He was not perfect, but he was a man of honor and integrity, who loved his God, his country and his wife passionately. He inherently believed in the triumph of good over evil, and that America was blessed by God and the last best hope of man on earth.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, IL on February 6, 1911 to John ‘Jack’ and Nelle Reagan. Reagan had a particularly strong faith in the goodness of people, which stemmed from the optimistic faith of his mother, Nelle, and the Disciples of Christ faith, into which Ronald was baptized at the age of eleven. The Reagan family was quite ahead of their time in their opposition to discrimination. They truly believed that all persons were created equal and that discrimination was evil, at a time when that was not an accepted belief. To that end, a young Ronnie once brought home a black family, to stay with his family for the night and feed them breakfast the next day, when they’d been turned away from a local inn simply because they were black.
The man who would become the 40th President of the United States, began his life much more humbly. The Reagan family was not well-off financially and Ronald obtained his job during high school. At the age of fifteen, he took a job as a lifeguard at a local pool, where he is credited with saving seventy-seven lives. After high school he went to Eureka College majoring in Economics and Sociology, where he was very involved in sports, particularly football.
Following his graduation from college in 1932, Reagan began working in radio broadcasting, where he primarily did sports announcing. This led to his acting career, where he achieved moderate success, but was often overshadowed by bigger talents. During his acting career, Ronald co-starred with and married actress Jane Wyman. The two had two daughters, Maureen and Christine (who died one day after birth) and adopted a son, Michael. Wyman filed for divorce in 1948, citing a distraction due to Reagan’s SAG union duties.
Reagan first became involved in politics by serving with the Screen Actors Guild, which he eventually became president of and served in that office for seven years. He was adamantly opposed to communism and the influence of communist in the motion picture agency. While originally a Democrat, he began leaning toward the ideologies of the Republican party in the early 1950’s and officially switched parties in 1962. When asked why he left the Democratic Party, his response was, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. It left me.”
While serving as the SAG president, Reagan met actress Nancy Davis, who became the love of his life. The two married in 1952 and they had two children of their own, Patti and Ron. One press secretary said of the couple, “They never took each other for granted. They never stopped courting.” Throughout their long life together, their love and devotion to each other was evident to all.
In the late 1950’s, Reagan began working as a host for General Electric Theater, a series of weekly dramas on TV, which became very popular. As part of his job, he was required to tour GE plants and give speeches (up to fourteen per day) to the employees for ten weeks out of the year. This is where he developed such strong writing and speaking skills, which would later earn him the title of “The Great Communicator.” His speeches often were politically charged and held a conservative, pro-business tone. He was fired by GE in 1962, when his speeches were deemed too controversial.
Throughout the years, Ronald Reagan became more involved in politics, becoming the Governor of California in 1967 – 1975. He set his sights on the Presidency as a truly conservative Republican. He challenged incumbent President Ford in 1976 for the bid to become the Republican candidate, but narrowly lost. He tried again in 1980 and ran against President Carter for the presidency, stressing in his campaign the importance of less taxes to stimulate the economy, less interference in government into people’s lives, more rights for the states, and a strong national defense. He won in a landslide election, gaining 44 states and 489 electoral votes, to Carters 49. In 1984 he ran for President again, against former Vice-President Walter Mondale, and this time too, he won in a landslide election winning 49 states and 525 electoral votes, the highest amount in history.
During his Presidency, Reagan faced many difficult issues. It began in a dramatic manner, with the releasing by Iran of 52 U.S. hostages after 444 days, during his inaugural address. And obviously, the assassination attempt on his life was not an ideal way to begin his Presidency. Beyond that, he had had the Air Traffic Controller’s strike, the collapsed U.S. economy, the Beirut barracks bombing by Muslim Terrorists which killed 241 American Marines, the escalation of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Challenger space tragedy, and the bombing of Libya to name just a few.
During a time when U.S. was struggling and facing great adversity, President Reagan offered strong leadership and hope, and helped his fellow Americans to once again believe this was a great and noble nation and to be proud of their heritage as citizens of the United States of America. His wit and warm personality won over many people, but none more important than that of Secretary General Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. Reagan spoke harshly and often against communism and called the Soviet Union the axis of evil. He worked diligently to build up our military force in anticipation of protecting our nation, but he also formed a genuine and lasting relationship with the Soviet leader while doing so. He firmly held to the belief in peace through strength. His efforts proved effective with the fall of the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is credited with winning the Cold War without a single shot being fired.
The faith of President Reagan permeated every part of his life. He often quoted Scripture in his speeches and personal prayer was prevalent – he even began his cabinet meetings with prayer. He believed he was placed upon the earth for such a time as this. His strength was in his dependence upon God. Ronald Reagan was a man of faith and conviction.
President Reagan died in died in his Bel Air home on June 5th, 2004, after suffering with Alzheimer’s disease for 10 years. His death was felt and mourned by people world-wide, not just by Americans. His body was laid first at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where more than 100,000 people came to view the coffin. It was then moved to D.C. where he became the 10th President to lie in state, and once again, more than 100,000 people came to pay their last respects. His state funeral was attended by (among others) Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher who gave a eulogy. June 11th was declared by then President George W. Bush, to be a National Day of Mourning. He was flown back to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where he was buried.
His burial site is is inscribed with the words he delivered at the opening of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:
“I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”
While there is so much I haven’t covered, like all of the awards he’s won, honors he’s received and the legacy he’s left, for sake of time and space, I’ll end with this. The quotes below are indicative of the beliefs he held and the character of the man he was.
Quotes of Ronald Reagan:
~ Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.
~ All great change in America begins at the dinner table.
~ Democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.
~ Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we've ever known.
~ Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.
~ Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
~ Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.
~ Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.
~ Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They're just braver five minutes longer.
~ I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.
~ I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there's purpose and worth to each and every life.
~ If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.
~ If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.
~ Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.
~ Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.
~ Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.
~ Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours.
~ Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the democrats believe every day is April 15th.
~ The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.
~ The taxpayer - that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.
~ There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.
~ There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.
~ We are never defeated unless we give up on God.
~ We have the duty to protect the life of an unborn child.
~ We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.
~ We should measure welfare's success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.
~ We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free.
~ Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.
~ Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.
~ Without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.
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