Ronald Reagan: For God and Country

The things that you find on YouTube.  Ronald Reagan in a training film for Army chaplains, For God and Country (1943).  Much higher production values than the average training film, and I found it moving.   Reagan was assigned to the 1rst Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Corps.  During the War it made some 400 training films for the Army.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. I’ll concede that compared to the current crop of politicians, Ronnie looks good. However, While it is easy to feel misty-eyed about good ol’ Dutch exuding sunlight from that ever-smiling actor studio’s face, there are other images that persist:
    • A clearly winded Ronnie, in his second term, falling asleep in front of the Pope.
    • Trading arms for hostages.
    • Running a trillion-dollar national debt to three trillion, thanks to lot of money for tanks, bombs and missiles.
    • Ordering the bombing of Libya, which resulted in several deaths, including that of Khaddafi’s adopted daughter, on flimsy evidence that that country was behind the bombing of a Berlin nightclub.
    * Ordering bloody military actions to suppress social and political change in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Afghanistan. He even admitted the U.S. intervention into Lebanon was one of his biggest regrets.
    • His low opinion of Martin Luther King Jr. Reluctantly signed MLK holiday. Asked if King was a communist sympathizer, Reagan responded: “We’ll know in 35 years, won’t we?” referring to sealed documents.
    Hollywood-trained that image was everything, substance nothing, Reagan was scripted to the core, from host of GE’s TV theater, reading from a cue card, to the schamltzy “touch of the face of God” speech after the Challenger astronauts died – most of his speeches written by the likes of Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan.
    Like both Bushes, Reagan was never very hard-working, put in a 9 to 5 day five days a week, napped often and vacationed at his palatial ranch in California with a moon-faced Nancy perpetually guarding the gates and fending off the press.
    Perhaps given undue credit for “defeating” the Soviet Union “without firing a shot” is the biggest mistake conventional wisdom makes in the instant rush to write history. Reagan’s “evil empire” speech had no effect on the Russians, as Gorby and others said, but rather it came at a time when the USSR was overburdened by massive defense spending in an attempt to keep up with Reagan’s runaway Pentagon budget.
    But who wants to spoil Americans’ image of Reagan atop a white horse, metaphorically leading the charge against the “Evil Empire,” cowboy hat jauntily placed amid the orange-dyed locks with the Battle Hymn of the Republic crescendoing in the background.
    To be sure, Reagan had some good qualities such as connecting with the masses. Some, however, would prefer to remember him as “The Great Prevaricator” rather than “The Great Communicator.” He told some whoppers.
    Of course, all presidents lie – it’s how they get elected and keep office for the most part. I’ll give Reagan credit for at least being able to read the script virtually flawlessly. Poor George W. Bush. He was not only the most intellectually shallow person ever to occupy the White House, he also mispronounces the most elemental words.
    Although I’d hold my nose and vote for Romney, he is no Reagan. The last good President we had was Ike but most on here weren’t even born yet when he ran the show. The prosperity, peace and unity of the fifties, Korea notwithstanding, will never been duplicated again.
    Even with Rubio on the ticket, Romney will stumble during the final months of the campaign as the Obama propaganda machine gets into full gear, the MSM making sure that their boy gets another 4 years to seal the country’s doom.
    I’ve said before that if that happens, resources permitting, I would become an ex-pat and although my first choice would be Costa Rica, I am thinking that I would settle into a cheap apartment in Rome to be near the Vatican, which I would visit every day to help restore my now weak Catholic belief. In short, I have given up on America.

  2. Joe,

    I’m looking at NZ and Chile, too. Rome: hadn’t thought of that. Worth a look. Wait until the euro crashes.

    I remember Ike and the ’50’s and ’60’s. I was dealing with a salesman 10 years younger than me and he lamented having come of age in the ’70’s. I had to agree.

    Guys like you and I may be unhappy now. At least we can look back on better times – the best years of our lives. The young ones never had it GOOD, and things will get worse.

    God help them.

  3. Mr. Shaw. Just finished Pat Buchanan’s book, Suicide of a Superpower, which renewed my nostalgia for the “good old days,” along with Stephen King’s Book, 11-22-63, which also transported me back to a better age.

    I no longer identify with the current or previous generation and suppose I’ve become embittered and misogynistic in my old age, pining for an era of simplicity and civility that no longer exists. Which is why my Catholic faith is returning because it is the one thing I can cling to as I hopefully merit God’s grace and go to a far better place.

    For me, Keats, in Ode to a Grecian Urn, sums up life on this earth: “Beauty is truth and truth beauty. Tis all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

  4. T. Shaw and Joe Green – I also remember and value as a standard, the civility and simplicity of life until the early 60’s when the balance in life started to go heavily toward the material here and now and lighter on innocence, faith, and reason. The young and children have such a different way with life these days (computers and dangers). I marvel at what I was unaware of even at age 21. It’s interesting to think of alternative residencies (the depth of being near the only outpost of Truth)( often think of my mother’s cousin in Italy who would never visit here), but I’m at a loss and the logistics are overwhelming … I think it was Franz Kafka, who wrote ‘A Clean, Well-Lit Room’. And, Jesus, in so many ways, warned against taking the things of the world to follow Him. He also said to keep lamps ready for when He returns. I don’t want to be out of oil for my lamp at that time. At least here – familiarity.

  5. Ronald Wilson Reagan is the greatest president of my lifetime, including Eisenhower.

    My list of the top ten Reagan accomplishments:

    1. Restoring America’s economic prosperity. Reagan through his policies vanquished the inflation that had been roaring through the seventies, and lowered the astronomical interest rates. People not alive then will have a hard time comprehending the deep ditch the economy was in before Reagan took office.

    2. Reagan restored American military strength. A perfect symbol for American military impotence under Carter was the failed rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages.

    3. Reagan successfully ended the Cold War in victory by convincing the Soviet leadership that they could not keep up with America militarily.

    4. Reagan halted the expansion of Communism in Central America and oversaw the successful resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    5. Reagan reduced the size of the Federal government in relationship to gnp by about 5%, almost an impossible accomplishment with the appetite of govenment for growth.

    6. Reagan was fond of saying that Communism was on its way to the ashheap of history. For that, he was often denounced by his detractors at the time as simple minded at best and a warmonger at worst. Reagan knew which way history was running and his detractors did not.

    7. Reagan gave the pro-life movement a strong bully pulpit, best typified by this essay he wrote for the Human Life Review in 1983:


    Reagan and his followers transformed the GOP into a party where pro-lifers predominate.

    8. Reagan restored pride in the country among many Americans. His campaign theme in the 1984 election was “It’s Morning Again in America” He won 49 states.

    9. Under Jimmy Carter it was common for people to say that the Presidency had become too big a job for one man, too complex. No one said that during the Reagan administration. From his first day to his last day in office he never had any doubt about what he wanted to accomplish and how to go about it. An uncertain rider makes a poor horseman, and an uncertain President does a poor job. Reagan was never uncertain.

    10. Reagan took a country that was manifestly in decline by most standards when he took office and left the country the sole superpower by the time he left.

    Reagan was not perfect and here are some of the criticisms of Reagan I have listed before on this blog:

    1. Reagan simply refused to veto spending bills on a regular basis and as a result the national debt soared.

    2. Reagan committed the Marines to Lebanon with no plan and after the barracks bombing he retreated from Lebanon in disarray, a complete foreign policy debacle.

    3. Reagan’s staff was often incompetent and he refused to do anything about it.

    4. Reagan often confused giving a good speech on a problem with actually doing something about the problem.

    5. The White House rarely had an effective strategy for raising public support for judicial nominees which directly led to the “Borking” of Judge Bork in 1987.

    6. Reagan often listened to Nancy who had disastrous political instincts.

    7. Reagan was too much of a “hands off” President which led to the Iran-Contra debacle which was caused by relatively low level figures such as Colonel North running riot with almost no adult supervision.

    8. Reagan was a disaster at using his popularity to help in Congressional races which led to the losses in the House in 82 and the loss of the Senate in 86.

    9. Reagan allowed himself to be outfoxed time and again by Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neal and was unable to understand his combination of personal amiability with unrelenting partisanship.

    10. For all his talk about Federalism the size and power of the Federal government continued to grow under his tenure, although he reduced it against the size of gnp.

    Having said that I wish there was space on Mount Rushmore to place the Gipper’s face up there. A nation is lucky to have a statesman of Reagan’s calibre at its head every century or two and I deem it a privilege to have lived during his administration.

  6. Don, thanks for adding some perspective and balance to my rather harsh critique of the Gipper. In retrospect I’d take him over any president in the past 60 years. However, I’d put Ike on Rushmore so make room for one more.

  7. Ike at his finest Joe, drafting this statement in the event D-Day failed:

    “Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

  8. Europeans also have a lot to thank Reagan for, particularly those in central Europe. In 1994 I ran into some Poles in Budapest who insisted on buying me a drink and whose only English was ‘Ronald Reagan’ and ‘Margaret Thatcher’. Eisenhower’s second term is now viewed much more positively, and it’s a pity that Nixon wasn’t elected in 1960 – there would have been no Berlin Wall, no Cuban missile crisis and quite possibly no Vietnam War.

    On a liturgical note – although he holds the paten correctly between first and second fingers, the thumb and forefinger of the left hand are not conjoined, and the slight bows in the Libera nos are omitted.

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