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Twenty-Eight Years Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall

 

Twenty-eight years ago today my bride and I arrived home from buying software for our Commodore 64  (Yeah, it is that long ago.) and watched stunned after we turned on the tv as we saw East Germans dancing on top of the Berlin War, tearing into it with sledge hammers.   It is hard to convey to people who did not live through the Cold War how wonderful a sight this was.  Most people at the time thought the Cold War was a permanent state of things.  Not Ronald Wilson Reagan.  He knew that Communism would end up on the losing side of history and throughout his career strove to bring that day ever closer.  His becoming President so soon after John Paul II became Pope set the stage for the magnificent decade of the Eighties when Communism passed from being a deadly threat to the globe to a belief held only by a handful of benighted tyrannical regimes around the world, and crazed American professors.  In most of his movies, the good guys won in the end, and Reagan helped give us a very happy ending to a menace that started in 1917 and died in 1989.

 

 

Here is an interview Sam Donaldson did with Reagan immediately after the fall of the wall:

Lech Walesa, a leader of that band of millions of heroes and heroines, at the head of which were Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan, who won the Cold War, gave this salute to Reagan after Reagan died in 2004: Continue Reading

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Reagan on D-Day

Reagan gave the above speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, a third of a century ago.  Tomorrow is the 73rd anniversary of the longest day, and there are only a precious few of those men who stormed the beaches who still remain with us.  Time to remember them tomorrow and every day:

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty.  For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow.  Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation.  Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue.  here in Normandy the rescue began.  Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers on the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up.  When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only ninety could still bear arms. Continue Reading

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Thirty Five Years Ago: Reagan Christmas Address

On December 23, 1981, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation.  The video above is an excerpt from that speech.  The portion of the address dealing with the attempt by the then Polish Communist regime to crush Solidarity, the Polish labor union leading a movement for freedom that would ultimately be the spark that destroyed Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, is omitted.  A few things struck me about the address:

1.  When is the last time a president quoted G.K. Chesterton?

2.   Reagan’s reference to children as a gift from God.

3.   His reference to Christ’s first miracle being His coming to humanity as a helpless babe.

They don’t make them like Reagan anymore, and more is the pity.  Here is the text of his address: Continue Reading

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June 20, 1985: Medal of Freedom for the Saint of the Gutters

Mother-Teresa

We are misunderstood, we are misrepresented, we are misreported. We are not nurses, we are not doctors, we are not teachers, we are not social workers. We are religious, we are religious, we are religious.

Mother Teresa

 

Mother Teresa is being canonized today.  It brings to my mind the date that President Reagan awarded her the Medal of Freedom:

The President. This great house receives many great visitors, but none more special or more revered than our beloved guest today. A month ago, we awarded the Medal of Freedom to 13 heroes who have done their country proud. Only one of the recipients could not attend because she had work to do — not special work, not unusual work for her, but everyday work which is both special and urgent in its own right. Mother Teresa was busy, as usual, saving the world. And I mean that quite literally. And so we rather appreciated her priorities, and we’re very happy, indeed, that she could come to America this week.

Now, a moment ago, I said we’d awarded the Medal of Freedom to heroes who’ve done our country proud. And I believe Mother Teresa might point out here that she is most certainly not an American but a daughter of Yugoslavia, and she has not spent her adult life in this country but in India. However, it simply occurred to us when we wanted to honor her that the goodness in some hearts transcends all borders and all narrow nationalistic considerations.

Some people, some very few people are, in the truest sense, citizens of the world; Mother Teresa is. And we love her so much we asked her to accept our tribute, and she graciously accepted. And I will now read the citation.

Most of us talk about kindness and compassion, but Mother Teresa, the saint of the gutters, lives it. As a teenager, she went to India to teach young girls. In time, Mother Teresa began to work among the poor and the dying of Calcutta. Her order of the Missionaries of Charity has spread throughout the world, serving the poorest of the poor.

Mother Teresa is a heroine of our times. And to the many honors she has received, including the Nobel Peace Prize, we add, with deep affection and endless respect, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

[At this point, the President presented the award to Mother Teresa.]

May I say that this is the first time I’ve given the Medal of Freedom with the intuition that the recipient might take it home, melt it down and turn it into something that can be sold to help the poor. [Laughter]

And I want to thank you for something, Mother Teresa. Your great work and your life have inspired so many Americans to become personally involved, themselves, in helping the poor. So many men and women in every area of life, in government and the private sector, have been led by the light of your love, and they have given greatly of themselves. And we thank you for your radiant example.

 

Mother Teresa. I am most unworthy of this generous gift of our President, Mr. Reagan, and his wife and you people of United States. But I accept it for the greater glory of God and in the name of the millions of poor people that this gift, in spirit and in love, will penetrate the hearts of the people. For in giving it to me, you are giving it to them, to my hands, with your great love and concern.

 

I’ve never realized that you loved the people so tenderly. I had the experience, I was last time here, a sister from Ethiopia found me and said, “Our people are dying. Our children are dying. Mother, do something.” And the only person that came in my mind while she was talking, it was the President. And immediately I wrote to him, and I said, “I don’t know, but this is what happened to me.” And next day it was that immediately he arranged to bring food to our people. And I can tell you the gift that has come from your people, from your country, has brought life — new life — to our suffering people in Ethiopia.

 

I also want to thank the families here in United States for their continual and delicate love that they have given, and they have shown, by leaving their children to become sisters and to serve the poor throughout the world. We are now over the world and trying to bring the tenderness and the love of Jesus.

 

And you, you cannot go where we go. You cannot do what we do. But together, we are doing something beautiful for God. And my gratitude to you, President, and your family and to your people. It’s my prayer for you that you may grow in holiness to this tender love for the poorest of the poor. But this love begins at home, in your own family, and it begins by praying together. Prayer gives a clean heart, and a clean heart can see God. And if you see God in each other, you will have love, peace, joy together. And works of love are works of peace. And love begins at home.

 

So, my sisters, brothers, and fathers, you are going — and all our poor people, thousands and thousands and thouands of people that we deal with, I bring their gratitude to you. And keep the joy of loving. Love them, and begin in your own family first. And that love will penetrate right through the furthest place where no one has ever been — there is that tenderness and love of Christ.

 

And remember that whatever you do to the least, you do it to Him, Jesus said. You did it to me. What a wonderful opportunity for each one of us to be 24 hours with Jesus. And in doing what we are doing, as he said, if you receive a little child in my name, you receive me. If you give a glass of water in my name, you give it to me. What a wonderful and beautiful tenderness and love of Christ for each one of us.

 

So, once more, I want to thank you for this beautiful gift, which I am sure it will bring great joy to our people by sharing it with them.

 

God bless you and keep you in his heart.

 

 

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July 17, 1980: Ronald Reagan Acceptance Speech

 

 

 

Hands down the most effective acceptance speech I have witnessed in my life.  Reagan had been aiming for this since 1968.  For his conservative followers this was the culmination of a struggle dating back to the Eisenhower-Taft sruggle in 1852.  Here is the text of the speech:

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President to be, this convention, my fellow citizens of this great nation:

With a deep awareness of the responsibility conferred by your trust, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States. I do so with deep gratitude, and I think also I might interject on behalf of all of us, our thanks to Detroit and the people of Michigan and to this city for the warm hospitality they have shown. And I thank you for your wholehearted response to my recommendation in regard to George Bush as a candidate for vice president.

I am very proud of our party tonight. This convention has shown to all America a party united, with positive programs for solving the nation’s problems; a party ready to build a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace and freedom.

I know we have had a quarrel or two, but only as to the method of attaining a goal. There was no argument about the goal. As president, I will establish a liaison with the 50 governors to encourage them to eliminate, where it exists, discrimination against women. I will monitor federal laws to insure their implementation and to add statutes if they are needed.

More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country; to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values. Continue Reading

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Victims of Communism Day: Year of Miracles

 

Today is the Victims of Communism Day  on which we remember the one hundred million and counting butchered by Communist regimes and movements.  Twenty-seven years ago in 1989 I lived through the Year of Miracles in which nation after nation in Eastern European threw off the shackles of the Soviet imposed Communist regimes that had enslaved them in the wake of World War II.   It was a year that seemed like a dream come true.

In 1982 President Ronald Reagan laid out a blue print for what was to come:

Some argue that we should encourage democratic change in right-wing dictatorships, but not in Communist regimes. Well, to accept this preposterous notion — as some well-meaning people have — is to invite the argument that once countries achieve a nuclear capability, they should be allowed an undisturbed reign of terror over their own citizens.

We reject this course. Continue Reading

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Ronald Reagan: January 28, 1986: The Future Doesn’t Belong to the Faint Hearted

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.

                                              President Ronald Reagan, January 28, 1986

 

 

 

As regular readers of this blog know, I am honored to share my birthday, February 6, with the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Wilson Reagan.  Today is my 59th birthday and the one hundred and fifth for President Reagan.  One aspect of his Presidency was the power of his oratory:  Mr. Reagan being a master of giving voice to sentiments with verbal images that could move and inspire his listeners.  One of the best short samples of his skill, is the speech that he gave on the day of the Challenger disaster.  Reagan, obviously filled with grief himself, did not allow his speech to be a mere lament.  While honoring the dead he pointed to the future, and told the hard truth that loss and disaster are the inevitable price to be paid for exploration and new frontiers.  Here is the text of his speech: Continue Reading

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July 4, 1986: President Reagan on the Declaration of Independence

 

My fellow Americans:

In a few moments the celebration will begin here in New York Harbor. It’s going to be quite a show. I was just looking over the preparations and thinking about a saying that we had back in Hollywood about never doing a scene with kids or animals because they’d steal the scene every time. So, you can rest assured I wouldn’t even think about trying to compete with a fireworks display, especially on the Fourth of July.

My remarks tonight will be brief, but it’s worth remembering that all the celebration of this day is rooted in history. It’s recorded that shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former Colonists — they were just starting to call themselves Americans — set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.

What a contrast with the sober scene that had taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. Fifty-six men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. And that was more than rhetoric; each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the Crown. “We must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin said, “or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.” And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity, on the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.

For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Last night when we rededicated Miss Liberty and relit her torch, we reflected on all the millions who came here in search of the dream of freedom inaugurated in Independence Hall. We reflected, too, on their courage in coming great distances and settling in a foreign land and then passing on to their children and their children’s children the hope symbolized in this statue here just behind us: the hope that is America. It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.

And it’s the hope of millions all around the world. In the last few years, I’ve spoken at Westminster to the mother of Parliaments; at Versailles, where French kings and world leaders have made war and peace. I’ve been to the Vatican in Rome, the Imperial Palace in Japan, and the ancient city of Beijing. I’ve seen the beaches of Normandy and stood again with those boys of Pointe du Hoc, who long ago scaled the heights, and with, at that time, Lisa Zanatta Henn, who was at Omaha Beach for the father she loved, the father who had once dreamed of seeing again the place where he and so many brave others had landed on D-day. But he had died before he could make that trip, and she made it for him. “And, Dad,” she had said, “I’ll always be proud.”

And I’ve seen the successors to these brave men, the young Americans in uniform all over the world, young Americans like you here tonight who man the mighty U.S.S. Kennedy and the Iowa and other ships of the line. I can assure you, you out there who are listening, that these young are like their fathers and their grandfathers, just as willing, just as brave. And we can be just as proud. But our prayer tonight is that the call for their courage will never come. And that it’s important for us, too, to be brave; not so much the bravery of the battlefield, I mean the bravery of brotherhood.

All through our history, our Presidents and leaders have spoken of national unity and warned us that the real obstacle to moving forward the boundaries of freedom, the only permanent danger to the hope that is America, comes from within. It’s easy enough to dismiss this as a kind of familiar exhortation. Yet the truth is that even two of our greatest Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, once learned this lesson late in life. They’d worked so closely together in Philadelphia for independence. But once that was gained and a government was formed, something called partisan politics began to get in the way. After a bitter and divisive campaign, Jefferson defeated Adams for the Presidency in 1800. And the night before Jefferson’s inauguration, Adams slipped away to Boston, disappointed, brokenhearted, and bitter. Continue Reading

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Fortnight For Freedom: John Paul II on the Constitution

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

 

 

Interesting reflections on the Constitution courtesy of remarks made by Pope John Paul II to President Reagan on September 10, 1987 during the Pope’s visit to the US:

 

Mr President,

1. I am grateful for the great courtesy that you  extend to me by coming personally to meet me in this city of Miami. Thank you  for this gesture of kindness and respect.

On my part I cordially greet you as the  elected Chief Executive of the United States of America. In addressing you I  express my own deep respect for the constitutional structure of this  democracy, which you are called to “preserve, protect and defend”. In  addressing you, Mr. President, I greet once again all the American people with their history, their achievements and their great possibilities of serving  humanity.

I willingly pay honour to the United  States for what she has accomplished for her own people, for all those whom she  has embraced in a cultural creativity and welcomed into an indivisible national  unity, according to her own motto: E pluribus unum. I thank America and all Americans – those of past generations and those of the present – for their  generosity to millions of their fellow human beings in need throughout the  world. Also today, I wish to extol the blessing and gifts that America has  received from God and cultivated, and which have become the true values of the  whole American experiment in the past two centuries.

2. For all of you this is a special hour in your  history: the celebration of the Bicentennial of your Constitution. It is a time  to recognize the meaning of that document and to reflect on important aspects of  the constitutionalism that produced it. It is a time to recall the original  American political faith with its appeal to the sovereignty of God. To celebrate  the origin of the United States is to stress those moral and spiritual  principles, those ethical concerns that influenced your Founding Fathers and  have been incorporated into the experience of America.

Eleven years ago, when your country was  celebrating another great document, the Declaration of Independence, my  predecessor Paul VI spoke to American Congressmen in Rome. His statement is  still pertinent today: “At every turn” he said, “your Bicentennial speaks to you  of moral principles, religious convictions, inalienable rights given by the  Creator”. And he added: “We earnestly hope that… this commemoration of your  Bicentennial will constitute a rededication to those sound moral principles  formulated by your Founding Fathers and enshrined forever in your history” (Pauli VI, Allocutio ad civiles Auctoritates Foederatarum Civitatum Americae  Septemtrionalis, die 26 apr. 1976: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIV [1976] 288ss.). Continue Reading

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Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II

 

Today is my 58th birthday.  I have always been pleased to share my birthday with one of the greatest of our presidents:   Ronald Wilson Reagan.  One of the fascinating aspects of his Presidency was the alliance established between him, Pope John Paul II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to help bring about the demise of Communism in Eastern Europe.  Carl Bernstein chronicled what he called The Holy Alliance which began with a meeting between Reagan and the Pope in the Vatican Library on June 7, 1982, the first meeting of the two men:

According to aides who shared their leaders’ view of the world, Reagan and John Paul II refused to accept a fundamental political fact of their lifetimes: the division of Europe as mandated at Yalta and the communist dominance of Eastern Europe. A free, noncommunist Poland, they were convinced, would be a dagger to the heart of the Soviet empire; and if Poland became democratic, other East European states would follow.

“We both felt that a great mistake had been made at Yalta and something should be done,” Reagan says today. “Solidarity was the very weapon for bringing this about, because it was an organization of the laborers of Poland.” Nothing quite like Solidarity had ever existed in Eastern Europe, Reagan notes, adding that the workers’ union “was contrary to anything the Soviets would want or the communists ((in Poland)) would want.”

According to Solidarity leaders, Walesa and his lieutenants were aware that both Reagan and John Paul II were committed to Solidarity’s survival, but they could only guess at the extent of the collaboration. “Officially I didn’t know the church was working with the U.S.,” says Wojciech Adamiecki, the organizer and editor of underground Solidarity newspapers and now a counselor at the Polish embassy in Washington. “We were told the Pope had warned the Soviets that if they entered Poland he would fly to Poland and stay with the Polish people. The church was of primary assistance. It was half open, half secret. Open as far as humanitarian aid — food, money, medicine, doctors’ consultations held in churches, for instance — and secret as far as supporting political activities: distributing printing machines of all kinds, giving us a place for underground meetings, organizing special demonstrations.”

At their first meeting, Reagan and John Paul II discussed something else they had in common: both had survived assassination attempts only six weeks apart in 1981, and both believed God had saved them for a special mission. “A close friend of Ronald Reagan’s told me the President said, ‘Look how the evil forces were put in our way and how Providence intervened,’ ” says Pio Cardinal Laghi, the former apostolic delegate to Washington. According to National Security Adviser Clark, the Pope and Reagan referred to the ) “miraculous” fact that they had survived. Clark said the men shared “a unity of spiritual view and a unity of vision on the Soviet empire: that right or correctness would ultimately prevail in the divine plan.”

At first blush Reagan and Pope John Paul II had little in common, but that was deceptive.  Both had acting backgrounds and well understood the importance of how a message was conveyed as well as the substance of the message.  Both were outdoorsmen.  Both were men who were strangers to the seats of power of the institutions they led, who found themselves called to lead at moments of crisis, after the institutions they headed had gone through rocky times.  Both were simultaneously traditionalists of those institutions and yet also reformers.  Both had warm and winning personalities, but neither allowed more than a select handful of people to get emotionally close to them.  Both were exceptionally strong-willed men, not to be trifled with, yet day to day management of their institutions was not their strong point.  Both shared the attribute of all great statesmen:  the ability to see beyond the travails of their time to better days, and that is how both of them viewed the seemingly intractable problem of Communism, which they understand, in contrast to almost all of their contemporaries, as a problem to be solved and not a permanent feature on the world stage.  A strong President and a strong Pope, a fortunate combination for the World at that time.

Here is the text of President Reagan’s public remarks at the June 7, 1982 meeting: Continue Reading

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Reagan on FDR

 

Today is my bride’s birthday, a birthday she shares with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  On this day, I think the remarks of President Reagan on the centennial of FDR’s birth need to be recalled.  Reagan of course supported FDR when Reagan was a New Deal Democrat.  As a Republican he attempted to correct the mistakes of the New Deal, but he never lost his admiration for the leadership shown by Roosevelt, many aspects of which Reagan during his Presidency shared.  Here are an excerpt of Reagan’s remarks:

 

We’re all here today to mark the centennial of one of history’s truly monumental figures, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Historians still debate the details of his intentions, his policies and their impact. But all agree that, like the Founding Fathers before him, F. D. R. was an American giant, a leader who shaped, inspired, and led our people through perilous times. He meant many different things to many different people. He could reach out to men and women of diverse races and backgrounds and inspire them with new hope and new confidence in war and peace.

Franklin Roosevelt was the first President I ever saw. I remember the moment vividly. It was in 1936, a campaign parade in Des Moines, Iowa. What a wave of affection and pride swept through that crowd as he passed by in an open car—which we haven’t seen a President able to do for a long time—a familiar smile on his lips, jaunty and confident, drawing from us reservoirs of confidence and enthusiasm some of us had forgotten we had during those hard years. Maybe that was F. D. R.’s greatest gift to us. He really did convince us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. Continue Reading

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Quotes Suitable For Framing: Ronald Reagan

 

 

At the same time, we invite the Soviet Union to consider with us how the competition of ideas and values — which it is committed to support — can be conducted on a peaceful and reciprocal basis. For example, I am prepared to offer President Brezhnev an opportunity to speak to the American people on our television if he will allow me the same opportunity with the Soviet people. We also suggest that panels of our newsmen periodically appear on each other’s television to discuss major events.

Now, I don’t wish to sound overly optimistic, yet the Soviet Union is not immune from the reality of what is going on in the world. It has happened in the past — a small ruling elite either mistakenly attempts to ease domestic unrest through greater repression and foreign adventure, or it chooses a wiser course. It begins to allow its people a voice in their own destiny. Even if this latter process is not realized soon, I believe the renewed strength of the democratic movement, complemented by a global campaign for freedom, will strengthen the prospects for arms control and a world at peace.

I have discussed on other occasions, including my address on May 9th, the elements of Western policies toward the Soviet Union to safeguard our interests and protect the peace. What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term — the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.

Ronald Reagan, Address to British Parliament on June 8, 1982

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Compare and Contrast

Reagan saluting

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

                                         Ronald Reagan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee Cup Salute

1

Reagan on D-Day

Reagan gave the above speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day.  Today is the 70th anniversary of the longest day, and there are only a precious few of those men who stormed the beaches who still remain with us.  Time to remember them on this day and every day:

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty.  For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow.  Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation.  Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue.  here in Normandy the rescue began.  Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers on the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up.  When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only ninety could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war. Continue Reading

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Pope Benedict on D-Day

On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe.  What had happened?  A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil.  And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us.  If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.

Continue Reading

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Victims of Communism Day

 

 

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker and Victims of Communism Day.

Today we recall the two champions who led the charge that led to the downfall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union:  President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.  It is either an odd coincidence or the Hand of God, that these two men came to power at precisely the time when the edifice of Communism began to crack.  Most people viewed Communism as a permanent geopolitical feature in the world.  Neither Reagan nor the Pope shared that view.  Reagan assumed that the spirit of freedom would ultimately triumph and that Communism, sooner rather than later, would end up on the ash heap of History.  John Paul II was certain that Christianity would triumph over Communism.  John Paul II’s election as Pope, proof that God had not forgotten Poland was the inspiration for Solidarity, which Reagan vigorously supported.  Reagan embarked on an arms build up that the Soviet Union could not match, pushing their tottering economy over the brink.  John Paul II spoke out against Liberation Theology in the Third World, reminding Catholics that Marxism and Christianity were antithetical.  Together, Pope and President gave hope to all those who struggled, ultimately successfully, to overthrow their Communist regimes, which happened one after another in the Year of Miracles of 1989. Continue Reading

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April 2, 1983: Reagan on Passover and Easter

My fellow Americans:

This week as American families draw together in worship, we join with millions upon millions of others around the world also celebrating the traditions of their faiths. During these days, at least, regardless of nationality, religion, or race, we are united by faith in God, and the barriers between us seem less significant.

Observing the rites of Passover and Easter, we’re linked in time to the ancient origins of our values and to the unborn generations who will still celebrate them long after we’re gone. As Paul explained in his Epistle to the Ephesians, “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. So then you were no longer strangers and aliens, but you were fellow citizens of God’s household.”

This is a time of hope and peace, when our spirits are filled and lifted. It’s a time when we give thanks for our blessings-chief among them, freedom, peace, and the promise of eternal life.

This week Jewish families and friends have been celebrating Passover, a tradition rich in symbolism and meaning. Its observance reminds all of us that the struggle for freedom and the battle against oppression waged by Jews since ancient times is one shared by people everywhere. And Christians have been commemorating the last momentous days leading to the crucifixion of Jesus 1,950 years ago. Tomorrow, as morning spreads around the planet, we’ll celebrate the triumph of life over death, the Resurrection of Jesus. Both observances tell of sacrifice and pain but also of hope and triumph.

As we look around us today, we still find human pain and suffering, but we also see it answered with individual courage and spirit, strengthened by faith. For example, the brave Polish people, despite the oppression of a godless tyranny, still cling to their faith and their belief in freedom. Shortly after Palm Sunday Mass this week, Lech Walesa faced a cheering crowd of workers outside a Gdansk church. He held his hand up in a sign of victory and predicted, “The time will come when we will win.”

Recently, an East German professor, his wife, and two daughters climbed into a 7-foot rowboat and crossed the freezing, wind-whipped Baltic to escape from tyranny. Arriving in West Germany after a harrowing 7-hour, 31-mile journey past East German border patrols, the man said he and his family had risked everything so that the children would have the chance to grow up in freedom.

In Central America Communist-inspired revolution still spreads terror and instability, but it’s no match for the much greater force of faith that runs so deep among the people. We saw this during Pope John Paul II’s recent visit there. As he conducted a Mass in Nicaragua, state police jeered and led organized heckling by Sandinista supporters. But the Pope lifted a crucifix above his head and waved it at the crowd before him, then turned and symbolically held it up before the massive painting of Sandinista soldiers that loomed behind. The symbol of good prevailed. In contrast, everywhere else the Holy Father went in the region, spreading a message that only love can build, he was met by throngs of enthusiastic believers, eager for Papal guidance and blessing. Continue Reading

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Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

Ronald Reagan

Today is my 57th birthday.  I am pleased that I share my natal day with the man I consider the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Wilson Reagan, who was born one hundred and three years ago today in Tampico, Illinois.  I greatly admire Reagan for many reasons:  his wit, eloquence and good humor;  his prime role in bringing about the destruction of Communism as a ruling ideology in the former, how good it is to write that adjective!, Soviet Union and Eastern Europe;  his restoration of American prosperity by wringing inflation from the American economy;  his rebuilding of the nation’s defenses;  his restoration of American pride and optimism.  However, there is one stand of his that, above all others, ensures that he will always have a special place in my heart, his defense of the weakest and the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.

In 1983 Reagan submitted an essay on abortion to the Human Life Review, then and now, the scholarly heart of the pro-life movement.  He entitled it, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.  Go here to the Human Life Review’s website to read it.

Reagan in the article attacked Roe on its tenth anniversary and stated that Roe had not settled the abortion fight:

Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court’s result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right. Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision, Professor John Hart Ely, now Dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that the opinion “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at a “right” so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born. Yet that is what the Court ruled.

As an act of “raw judicial power” (to use Justice White’s biting phrase), the decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court’s decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.

Reagan saw that abortion diminished respect for all human life and quoted Mother Teresa as to the simple truth that abortion is the “greatest misery of our time”:

We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life. We saw tragic proof of this truism last year when the Indiana courts allowed the starvation death of “Baby Doe” in Bloomington because the child had Down’s Syndrome.

Many of our fellow citizens grieve over the loss of life that has followed Roe v. Wade. Margaret Heckler, soon after being nominated to head the largest department of our government, Health and Human Services, told an audience that she believed abortion to be the greatest moral crisis facing our country today. And the revered Mother Teresa, who works in the streets of Calcutta ministering to dying people in her world-famous mission of mercy, has said that “the greatest misery of our time is the generalized abortion of children.”

Reagan, ever a student of American history, tied the fight against Roe with the fight against the Dred Scott decision:

Despite the formidable obstacles before us, we must not lose heart. This is not the first time our country has been divided by a Supreme Court decision that denied the value of certain human lives. The Dred Scottdecision of 1857 was not overturned in a day, or a year, or even a decade. At first, only a minority of Americans recognized and deplored the moral crisis brought about by denying the full humanity of our black brothers and sisters; but that minority persisted in their vision and finally prevailed. They did it by appealing to the hearts and minds of their countrymen, to the truth of human dignity under God. From their example, we know that respect for the sacred value of human life is too deeply engrained in the hearts of our people to remain forever suppressed. But the great majority of the American people have not yet made their voices heard, and we cannot expect them to—any more than the public voice arose against slavery—until the issue is clearly framed and presented. Continue Reading

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January 11, 1989: Reagan’s Farewell Address

If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.

Ronald Reagan, Farewell Speech, January 11, 1989

 

A quarter century ago, Ronald Reagan was completing his second term as President and addressed the nation one last time.  As we look to the future after the Obama administration, we might do far worse than paying close attention to this speech which conveyed a far different vision for America than that which has been promoted by the current administration:

My fellow Americans:

 

This is the 34th time I’ll speak to you from the Oval Office and the last. We’ve been together 8 years now, and soon it’ll be time for me to go. But before I do, I wanted to share some thoughts, some of which I’ve been saving for a long time.

 

It’s been the honor of my life to be your President. So many of you have written the past few weeks to say thanks, but I could say as much to you. Nancy and I are grateful for the opportunity you gave us to serve.

 

One of the things about the Presidency is that you’re always somewhat apart. You spend a lot of time going by too fast in a car someone else is driving, and seeing the people through tinted glass — the parents holding up a child, and the wave you saw too late and couldn’t return. And so many times I wanted to stop and reach out from behind the glass, and connect. Well, maybe I can do a little of that tonight.

 

People ask how I feel about leaving. And the fact is, “parting is such sweet sorrow.” The sweet part is California and the ranch and freedom. The sorrow — the goodbyes, of course, and leaving this beautiful place.

 

You know, down the hall and up the stairs from this office is the part of the White House where the President and his family live. There are a few favorite windows I have up there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning. The view is over the grounds here to the WashingtonMonument, and then the Mall and the Jefferson Memorial. But on mornings when the humidity is low, you can see past the Jefferson to the river, the Potomac, and the Virginia shore. Someone said that’s the view Lincoln had when he saw the smoke rising from the Battle of Bull Run. I see more prosaic things: the grass on the banks, the morning traffic as people make their way to work, now and then a sailboat on the river.

 

I’ve been thinking a bit at that window. I’ve been reflecting on what the past 8 years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one — a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor. It was back in the early eighties, at the height of the boat people. And the sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up, and called out to him. He yelled, “Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man.” Continue Reading

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One Solitary Life

All the armies that have ever marched

All the navies that have ever sailed

All the parliaments that have ever sat

All the kings that ever reigned put together

  Have not affected the life of mankind on earth

As powerfully as that one solitary life

From One Solitary Life

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H. G. Wells Continue Reading

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Roosevelt, Reagan and Us

 

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.

Mark Twain

 

 

 

Lou Cannon at Real Clear Politics has a fascinating piece comparing FDR and Reagan as orators:

 

 

Naturally I assumed, as children of that era did, that the president wrote all his speeches. In fact, his gifted counsel and speechwriter, Sam Rosenman, wrote some of FDR’s best lines, and playwright Robert Sherwood, a presidential confidant, wrote others. But they didn’t write the Pearl Harbor speech. Sherwood, reliable on such matters, said that Roosevelt wrote every word except for a “platitudinous” sentence near the end suggested by his closest aide, Harry Hopkins.

What Sherwood didn’t bother to say in his lyrical book, “Roosevelt and Hopkins,” was that FDR edited that speech after he wrote it. His best edit produced the most memorable phrase: “a date that will live infamy.” As FDR first wrote it, it was “a date that will live in history.” In 2002 I saw an immense blow-up of the speech draft at an exhibit on American heroes at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Roosevelt had vividly struck through the word “history” and written “infamy” above it.

As a Reagan biographer, I knew that strike-through. My fellow Reagan chronicler, the economist Annelise Anderson, had sent me copies of Reagan speech drafts for use in a table-top book. The drafts were full of such markings and erasures so that one could barely read the words that had been replaced. Like FDR, Reagan also wrote substitute words above the ones he excised.

It’s not surprising that Reagan emulated Roosevelt’s editing. FDR was Reagan’s first political idol. When Roosevelt gave his stirring inaugural address on March 4, 1933, Reagan listened to it on a radio soon after college, a time when he was dreaming of an acting career. Reagan had an excellent memory and passably imitated FDR’s patrician accent. He was soon entertaining friends by reciting passages of the address, using a broomstick as a microphone.

Reagan would in time diverge from FDR ideologically without ever losing his appreciation for Roosevelt as an inspirational leader. Both men were dominant politicians and transformational presidents. Both understood the power of words and the importance of editing. Continue Reading

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November 9, 1989

Twenty-four years ago today my wife and I arrived home from buying software for our Commodore 64  (Yeah, it is that long ago.) and watched stunned after we turned on the tv as we saw East Germans dancing on top of the Berlin War, tearing into it with sledge hammers.   It is hard to convey to people who did not live through the Cold War how wonderful a sight this was.  Most people at the time thought the Cold War was a permanent state of things.  Not Ronald Wilson Reagan.  He knew that Communism would end up on the losing side of history and throughout his career strove to bring that day ever closer.  His becoming President so soon after John Paul II became Pope set the stage for the magnificent decade of the Eighties when Communism passed from being a deadly threat to the globe to a belief held only by a handful of benighted tyrannical regimes around the world, and crazed American professors.  In most of his movies, the good guys won in the end, and Reagan helped give us a very happy ending to a menace that started in 1917 and died in 1989.

Here is an interview Sam Donaldson did with Reagan immediately after the fall of the wall:

The thirst for freedom that the hand of God places in each human soul can be held down by force for a time, but it never can be killed forever. Continue Reading

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Pope John Paull II on the US Constitution and Freedom

 

 

 

Interesting reflections for a Constitution Day courtesy of remarks made by Pope John Paul II to President Reagan on September 10, 1987 during the Pope’s visit to the US:

 

Mr President,

1. I am grateful for the great courtesy that you  extend to me by coming personally to meet me in this city of Miami. Thank you  for this gesture of kindness and respect.

On my part I cordially greet you as the  elected Chief Executive of the United States of America. In addressing you I  express my own deep respect for the constitutional structure of this  democracy, which you are called to “preserve, protect and defend”. In  addressing you, Mr. President, I greet once again all the American people with their history, their achievements and their great possibilities of serving  humanity.

I willingly pay honour to the United  States for what she has accomplished for her own people, for all those whom she  has embraced in a cultural creativity and welcomed into an indivisible national  unity, according to her own motto: E pluribus unum. I thank America and all Americans – those of past generations and those of the present – for their  generosity to millions of their fellow human beings in need throughout the  world. Also today, I wish to extol the blessing and gifts that America has  received from God and cultivated, and which have become the true values of the  whole American experiment in the past two centuries.

2. For all of you this is a special hour in your  history: the celebration of the Bicentennial of your Constitution. It is a time  to recognize the meaning of that document and to reflect on important aspects of  the constitutionalism that produced it. It is a time to recall the original  American political faith with its appeal to the sovereignty of God. To celebrate  the origin of the United States is to stress those moral and spiritual  principles, those ethical concerns that influenced your Founding Fathers and  have been incorporated into the experience of America.

Eleven years ago, when your country was  celebrating another great document, the Declaration of Independence, my  predecessor Paul VI spoke to American Congressmen in Rome. His statement is  still pertinent today: “At every turn” he said, “your Bicentennial speaks to you  of moral principles, religious convictions, inalienable rights given by the  Creator”. And he added: “We earnestly hope that… this commemoration of your  Bicentennial will constitute a rededication to those sound moral principles  formulated by your Founding Fathers and enshrined forever in your history” (Pauli VI, Allocutio ad civiles Auctoritates Foederatarum Civitatum Americae  Septemtrionalis, die 26 apr. 1976: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIV [1976] 288ss.). Continue Reading

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Ronald Reagan

 

 

“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, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

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Back When We Had a Real President

The speech in the video is a section of Reagan’s Time For Choosing speech in 1964 that led to the beginning of his political career which culminated 16 years later in him being elected president.  Reagan said of the Marines:

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.

This is what we are saddled with today:

Obama Marine

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Ash-heap of History Speech

Today is my 56th birthday.  I share my birthday with the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Reagan.  I thought he was a great president at the time, but as the years roll by my admiration for President Reagan only grows.  The above video is the famous “ash-heap of history” speech to the British parliament on June 8, 1982.  Widely derided by critics at the time, Reagan’s speech was eerily prophetic as the Soviet Union swiftly landed on the ash-head of history.  Here is the text of the speech: Continue Reading

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January 21, 1985: Reagan Second Inaugural Address

For some reason on this day I am thinking of a Presidential second inaugural, that of Ronald Reagan!  He summed up the theme of his Presidency well with this observation in his speech that day:

Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning and we have accomplished that. But in another sense, our new beginning is a continuation of that beginning created two centuries ago when, for the first time in history, government, the people said, was not our master, it is our servant; its only power that which we the people allow it to have.

That system has never failed us, but, for a time, we failed the system. We asked things of government that government was not equipped to give. We yielded authority to the National Government that properly belonged to States or to local governments or to the people themselves. 

Here is the text of the speech of President Reagan 28 years ago: Continue Reading

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The Nine Most Terrifying Words in the English Language

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  President Reagan knew what he was talking about when he said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are:  I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

 

Even after Marie Freyre died alone in a nursing home 250 miles from the family in North Tampa that loved her, Marie’s mother had to fight to bring her home.

In March 2011, state child protection investigators took 14-year-old Marie from her mother, Doris Freyre, claiming Doris’ own disabilities made it almost impossible for her to care for Marie, who suffered from seizures and severe cerebral palsy. But a Tampa judge signed an order that Marie be returned to her mother, with in-home nursing care around the clock.

Florida health care administrators refused to pay for it, although in-home care can be demonstrably cheaper than care in an institution. Child welfare workers ignored the order completely.

Two months later, Marie was strapped into an ambulance for a five-hour trip to a Miami Gardens nursing home, as her mother begged futilely to go with her.

Marie died 12 hours after she arrived.

“Since the state of Florida took custody of my daughter, I would like the state of Florida to bring me back my daughter,” Freyre, 59, said at a May 9 court hearing, 12 days after her daughter died.

“They kidnapped my daughter. She was murdered,” said Freyre. “And I want my daughter back.”

The last days of Marie Freyre, chronicled in hundreds of pages of records reviewed by the Miami Herald, are a story of death by bureaucratic callousness and medical neglect. The episode sheds significant light on an ongoing dispute between Florida health care regulators and the U.S. Department of Justice. Though the state claims that the parents of severely disabled and medically fragile children have “choice” over where their children live and receive care, federal civil rights lawyers say Florida, by dint of a rigged funding system, has “systematically” force-fed sick children into nursing homes meant to care for adults — in violation of federal laws that prohibit discrimination against disabled people. Continue Reading

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There Were Giants in Those Days

 

 

There are millions of heroes and heroines who helped bring about the downfall of Communism in Europe in the Twentieth Century, from those who acted in the full spotlight of History, to those who are known only to God and who were executed for their resistance and tossed into mass graves.  At the very top of the list History will record two names:  Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan.  The people of a free Poland remember them:

GDANSK, Poland (AP) — Polish officials unveiled a statue of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II on Saturday, honoring two men widely credited in this Eastern European country with helping to topple communism 23 years ago.

The statue was unveiled in Gdansk, the birthplace of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, in the presence of about 120 former Solidarity activists, many of whom were imprisoned in the 1980s for their roles in organizing or taking part in strikes against the communist regime.

The bronze statue, erected in the lush seaside President Ronald Reagan Park, is a slightly larger-than-life rendering of the two late leaders. It was inspired by an Associated Press photograph taken in 1987 on John Paul’s second pontifical visit to the U.S.

The photographer who took the picture, Scott Stewart, expressed satisfaction that one of his pictures has helped immortalize “a wonderful moment in time between the two men.”

“In the news business we’re used to having a moment and then that moment being gone a day later. This is one image that should last for a good long time,” Stewart, who now teaches graphic design and photography at Greenville Technical College in South Carolina, said in a phone interview a day before the ceremony. “I’m happy that it’s been chosen as the seminal moment to represent the relationship of these two people to Poland.”

Reagan and John Paul shared a conviction that communism was a moral evil, not just a bad economic system. And Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that led the anti-communist struggle in Poland, has often paid homage to both men and told the AP in a recent interview that he deeply respected Reagan.

“Reagan should have a monument in every city,” Walesa said. Continue Reading

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25 years ago: “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!”

Twenty-five years ago, on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged Premier Gorbachev of the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall.  Just a little over two years later, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall did fall, a casualty of the movement for liberation in Eastern Europe, started by Solidarity in Poland, and supported throughout the Eighties by President Reagan and Pope John Paul II.  Those who were not alive during those days, or too young to remember the events, I suspect have a difficult time understanding how truly miraculous those events seemed to those of us who grew up during the Cold War.  The Soviet Union and the Communist regimes it imposed in Eastern Europe seemed like a permanent fixture of the World.  Reagan however, never believed this.

In a speech in the House of Commons on June 8, 1982, President Reagan made this startling prediction:

 

Since 1917 the Soviet Union has given covert political training and assistance to Marxist-Leninists in many countries. Of course, it also has promoted the use of violence and subversion by these same forces. Over the past several decades, West European and other Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, and leaders have offered open assistance to fraternal, political, and social institutions to bring about peaceful and democratic progress. Appropriately, for a vigorous new democracy, the Federal Republic of Germany’s political foundations have become a major force in this effort.

 

We in America now intend to take additional steps, as many of our allies have already done, toward realizing this same goal. The chairmen and other leaders of the national Republican and Democratic Party organizations are initiating a study with the bipartisan American political foundation to determine how the United States can best contribute as a nation to the global campaign for democracy now gathering force. They will have the cooperation of congressional leaders of both parties, along with representatives of business, labor, and other major institutions in our society. I look forward to receiving their recommendations and to working with these institutions and the Congress in the common task of strengthening democracy throughout the world.

 

It is time that we committed ourselves as a nation — in both the pubic and private sectors — to assisting democratic development.

 

We plan to consult with leaders of other nations as well. There is a proposal before the Council of Europe to invite parliamentarians from democratic countries to a meeting next year in Strasbourg. That prestigious gathering could consider ways to help democratic political movements.

 

This November in Washington there will take place an international meeting on free elections. And next spring there will be a conference of world authorities on constitutionalism and self-government hosted by the Chief Justice of the United States. Authorities from a number of developing and developed countries — judges, philosophers, and politicians with practical experience — have agreed to explore how to turn principle into practice and further the rule of law.

 

At the same time, we invite the Soviet Union to consider with us how the competition of ideas and values — which it is committed to support — can be conducted on a peaceful and reciprocal basis. For example, I am prepared to offer President Brezhnev an opportunity to speak to the American people on our television if he will allow me the same opportunity with the Soviet people. We also suggest that panels of our newsmen periodically appear on each other’s television to discuss major events.

 

Now, I don’t wish to sound overly optimistic, yet the Soviet Union is not immune from the reality of what is going on in the world. It has happened in the past — a small ruling elite either mistakenly attempts to ease domestic unrest through greater repression and foreign adventure, or it chooses a wiser course. It begins to allow its people a voice in their own destiny. Even if this latter process is not realized soon, I believe the renewed strength of the democratic movement, complemented by a global campaign for freedom, will strengthen the prospects for arms control and a world at peace.

 

I have discussed on other occasions, including my address on May 9, the elements of Western policies toward the Soviet Union to safeguard our interests and protect the peace. What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term — the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.

Run of the mill politicians deal with crises as best they can, usually on an ad hoc basis.  True statesmen have a vision that allows them to shape the future, and to leave the World better than they found it.  Reagan was a statesman.  Here is the text of his Tear Down This Wall speech: Continue Reading

Ronald Reagan on Memorial Day

Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad.

                                        Pope Benedict XVI

 

My fellow Americans, Memorial Day is a day of ceremonies and speeches. Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember they gave their lives so that others might live.

We’re also gathered here for a special event—the national funeral for an unknown soldier who will today join the heroes of three other wars.

When he spoke at a ceremony at Gettysburg in 1863, President Lincoln reminded us that through their deeds, the dead had spoken more eloquently for themselves than any of the living ever could, and that we living could only honor them by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they so willingly gave a last full measure of devotion.

Well, this is especially so today, for in our minds and hearts is the memory of Vietnam and all that that conflict meant for those who sacrificed on the field of battle and for their loved ones who suffered here at home.

Not long ago, when a memorial was dedicated here in Washington to our Vietnam veterans, the events surrounding that dedication were a stirring reminder of America’s resilience, of how our nation could learn and grow and transcend the tragedies of the past.

During the dedication ceremonies, the rolls of those who died and are still missing were read for three days in a candlelight ceremony at the National Cathedral. And the veterans of Vietnam who were never welcomed home with speeches and bands, but who were never defeated in battle and were heroes as surely as any who have ever fought in a noble cause, staged their own parade on Constitution Avenue. As America watched them—some in wheelchairs, all of them proud—there was a feeling that this nation—that as a nation we were coming together again and that we had, at long last, welcomed the boys home.

“A lot of healing went on,” said one combat veteran who helped organize support for the memorial. And then there was this newspaper account that appeared after the ceremonies. I’d like to read it to you. “Yesterday, crowds returned to the Memorial. Among them was Herbie Petit, a machinist and former marine from New Orleans. ‘Last night,’ he said, standing near the wall, ‘I went out to dinner with some other ex-marines. There was also a group of college students in the restaurant. We started talking to each other. And before we left, they stood up and cheered us. The whole week,’ Petit said, his eyes red, ‘it was worth it just for that.'”

It has been worth it. We Americans have learned to listen to each other and to trust each other again. We’ve learned that government owes the people an explanation and needs their support for its actions at home and abroad. And we have learned, and I pray this time for good, the most valuable lesson of all—the preciousness of human freedom. Continue Reading

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Ronald Reagan on Foreign Policy

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

Ronald Reagan

Ditto.

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Reagan and Me

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, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Ronald Reagan

Today is my 55th birthday and the 101rst birthday of Ronald Reagan, the man who gets my vote as the best president of my life time.  As the video clip above indicates, Reagan was a liberal Democrat for the first half of his life.  He often referred to this, sometimes humorously:

Sometimes seriously:

The classic liberal used to be the man who believed the individual was, and should be forever, the master of his destiny. That is now the conservative position. The liberal used to believe in freedom under law. He now takes the ancient feudal position that power is everything. He believes in a stronger and stronger central government, in the philosophy that control is better than freedom. The conservative now quotes Thomas Paine, a long-time refuge of the liberals: ‘Government is a necessary evil; let us have as little of it as possible.’

I of course lived during the time of Reagan’s life after he had become a conservative.  When I was seven years old I watched on television a speech, often referred to by Reagan biographers as The Speech, that Reagan gave in support of Barry Goldwater.  That speech led me to become a conservative.  The clip below is from a section of the speech that I have recalled all of my life: Continue Reading

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November 2, 1983: Ronald Reagan Signs Bill Creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Mrs. King, members of the King family, distinguished Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, I’m very pleased to welcome you to the White House, the home that belongs to all of us, the American people.

When I was thinking of the contributions to our country of the man that we’re honoring today, a passage attributed to the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier comes to mind. “Each crisis brings its word and deed.” In America, in the fifties and sixties, one of the important crises we faced was racial discrimination. The man whose words and deeds in that crisis stirred our nation to the very depths of its soul was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King was born in 1929 in an America where, because of the color of their skin, nearly 1 in 10 lived lives that were separate and unequal. Most black Americans were taught in segregated schools. Across the country, too many could find only poor jobs, toiling for low wages. They were refused entry into hotels and restaurants, made to use separate facilities. In a nation that proclaimed liberty and justice for all, too many black Americans were living with neither.

In one city, a rule required all blacks to sit in the rear of public buses. But in 1955, when a brave woman named Rosa Parks was told to move to the back of the bus, she said, “No.” A young minister in a local Baptist church, Martin Luther King, then organized a boycott of the bus company—a boycott that stunned the country. Within 6 months the courts had ruled the segregation of public transportation unconstitutional. Continue Reading

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Red Tail Angels

The video above was produced by the United States Army Air Corps in 1945 and narrated by Captain Ronald Reagan.  The film is a salute to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Blacks have served in all of America’s wars, in spite of the racial hatred that was often directed against them during their service.  In World War II the military was still segregated, and opposition to blacks serving as pilots was intense.   However, the Army Air Corps could not ignore that blacks had passed the tests to qualify as aviation cadets. Trained at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, the 99th Pursuit squadron was activated in 1941 and sent overseas to North Africa in April 1943.

The 99th served in the Sicilian Campaign and in Italy.  In the Spring of 1944 it was joined by the 100th, 301st and 302nd pursuit squadrons and formed the all black 332nd fighter group.  The 332nd flew as escorts for bombers flying bombing raids into Czechoslavakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Germany.  The 332nd became known as the Red Tails, or Red Tail Angels, for the red paint on the tails of their planes, and for the skill with which they guarded the bombers they escorted.  The men of the 332nd in their time in combat destroyed 261 enemy planes, damaged another 148, and flew a total of 15,533 combat sorties.  They suffered 66 pilots killed.  95 Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism were earned by the pilots, along with other awards for valor, and the 332nd received three President Unit Citations.  A bomber group, the 477th Medium Bomber Group, consisting of the 616th, 617th, 618th and 619th bomber squadrons, was formed from Tuskegee Airmen, but the War ended before the unit was deployed overseas. Continue Reading

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Steve Jobs: Thanks Mom For Not Aborting Me!

 

A follow up to my post, which may be read here, regarding Steve Jobs, Adoption and  Abortion.  Pro-lifers have gotten some static for bringing up the fact that Steve Jobs could have ended up aborted if his mother had not chosen life for him.  Well, it appears that Steve Jobs was thankful that his mother did not choose to kill him through abortion.

“I wanted to meet [her] mostly to see if she was OK and to thank her, because I’m glad I didn’t end up as an abortion,” he said. “She was 23 and she went through a lot to have me.” Continue Reading

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November 9, 1989

Twenty-two years ago today my wife and I arrived home from buying software for our Commodore 64  (Yeah, it is that long ago.) and watched stunned after we turned on the tv as we saw East Germans dancing on top of the Berlin War, tearing into it with sledge hammers.   It is hard to convey to people who did not live through the Cold War how wonderful a sight this was.  Most people at the time thought the Cold War was a permanent state of things.  Not Ronald Wilson Reagan.  He knew that Communism would end up on the losing side of history and throughout his career strove to bring that day ever closer.  His becoming President so soon after John Paul II became Pope set the stage for the magnificent decade of the Eighties when Communism passed from being a deadly threat to the globe to a belief held only by a handful of benighted tyrannical regimes around the world, and crazed American professors.  In most of his movies, the good guys won in the end, and Reagan helped give us a very happy ending to a menace that started in 1917 and died in 1989.

Here is an interview Sam Donaldson did with Reagan immediately after the fall of the wall:

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October 27, 1964: A Time For Choosing

Ronald Reagan launched his political career with this speech 47 years ago on behalf of Republican Presidential Nominee Barry Goldwater.  Goldwater went on to be clobbered in November by Lyndon Johnson, but the reaction to Reagan’s speech by conservatives was overwhelmingly positive.  In 1966 Reagan ran for and won the Governorship of California.  14 years later he was elected President of the United States.  Reagan had a relatively brief political career, and it all started with The Speech as this address has gone down in history.  Here is the text of the speech: Continue Reading

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Malaise II

On July 15, 1979, after an abysmal time leading the nation, Jimmy Carter, worst President of the United States except for James Buchanan and the present incumbent, gave a speech in which he blamed the ills of the land on the American people.  The problems certainly could not be due to him and his wretched policies, they had to be the fault of everyone else.  The speech became known as the spiritual malaise speech, although Carter did not use the term malaise.

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Reagan’s Normandy Speech

The first law firm I worked for in 1982 after I graduated from law school had three attorneys.  The senior partner had a son who fell at Omaha Beach.  Another partner was an officer in the Eighth Air Force helping to plot bombing missions in support of D-Day.  The attorney I replaced, who had been appointed to be a judge, had been badly wounded at Omaha Beach and still walked with a very pronounced limp as a result.  On Memorial Day  weekend I will remember those men, and all those who have sacrificed on behalf of our nation.  Here is the text of President Reagan’s speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day: Continue Reading

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Divini Redemtoris

“Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this is happening.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat; ‘Men have forgotten God; That’s why all this happened.'”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Today is the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, instituted by Pope Pius XII on May 1, 1955  as an alternative to the Communist May Day marches.  Today is also the beatification of John Paul II.  (I will have much more on Blessed John Paul II tomorrow.)  Today is also the Victims of Communism Day.  Hattip to Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy who began the campaign to make this day a day to remember the some one hundred million men, women and children murdered by Communist regimes and movements.

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Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

Ronald Reagan

Today is my 54th birthday.  I am pleased that I share my natal day with the man I consider the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Wilson Reagan, who was born one hundred years ago today in Tampico, Illinois.  I greatly admire Reagan for many reasons:  his wit, eloquence and good humor;  his prime role in bringing about the destruction of Communism as a ruling ideology in the former, how good it is to write that adjective!, Soviet Union and Eastern Europe;  his restoration of American prosperity by wringing inflation from the American economy;  his rebuilding of the nation’s defenses;  his restoration of American pride and optimism.  However, there is one stand of his that, above all others, ensures that he will always have a special place in my heart, his defense of the weakest and the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.

In 1983 Reagan submitted an essay on abortion to the Human Life Review, then and now, the scholarly heart of the pro-life movement.  He entitled it, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.  Go here to the Human Life Review’s website to read it.

Reagan in the article attacked Roe on its tenth anniversary and stated that Roe had not settled the abortion fight:

Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court’s result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right. Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision, Professor John Hart Ely, now Dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that the opinion “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at a “right” so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born. Yet that is what the Court ruled.

As an act of “raw judicial power” (to use Justice White’s biting phrase), the decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court’s decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.

Reagan saw that abortion diminished respect for all human life and quoted Mother Teresa as to the simple truth that abortion is the “greatest misery of our time”:

We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life. We saw tragic proof of this truism last year when the Indiana courts allowed the starvation death of “Baby Doe” in Bloomington because the child had Down’s Syndrome.

Many of our fellow citizens grieve over the loss of life that has followed Roe v. Wade. Margaret Heckler, soon after being nominated to head the largest department of our government, Health and Human Services, told an audience that she believed abortion to be the greatest moral crisis facing our country today. And the revered Mother Teresa, who works in the streets of Calcutta ministering to dying people in her world-famous mission of mercy, has said that “the greatest misery of our time is the generalized abortion of children.” Continue Reading

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November 9, 1989

Twenty-one years ago today my wife and I arrived home from buying software for our Commodore 64  (Yeah, it is that long ago.) and watched stunned after we turned on the tv as we saw East Germans dancing on top of the Berlin War, tearing into it with sledge hammers.   It is hard to convey to people who did not live through the Cold War how wonderful a sight this was.  Most people at the time thought the Cold War was a permanent state of things.  Not Ronald Wilson Reagan.  He knew that Communism would end up on the losing side of history and throughout his career strove to bring that day ever closer.  His becoming President so soon after John Paul II became Pope set the stage for the magnificent decade of the Eighties when Communism passed from being a deadly threat to the globe to a belief held only by a handful of benighted tyrannical regimes around the world, and crazed American professors.  In most of his movies, the good guys won in the end, and Reagan helped give us a very happy ending to a menace that started in 1917 and died in 1989.  Continue Reading