Saturday, June 05, 2004

I have two things that I want to say upon learning of President Reagan's death tonight.

I feel deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to meet President Reagan during his second term of office. From my very limited time with him, I can tell you that he was a quietly confident man, very warm and engaging. What I remember most about him was that although I was only just turning 16 at the time, he treated me as if I were as important as any other adult. I knew that many of the people around him thought that it was either "cute" or "PR" that he bothered to take a minute to ask me if I enjoyed my job (I was working for Governor Sununu at that time in NH), and to tell him something about myself.

I was a kid who had started as a summer high school intern and turned into an assistant to the Press Sec for the Governor, and I have always hoped that Reagan recognized in me the hard work and commitment that I tried to live by, and that he stood for. I had worked on the Christa McAuliffe Scholarship Fund (for those of you who don't remember McAuliffe was the teacher from NH that died in the Challenger explosion) and both Reagan and then Vice President GHW Bush spoke with me about how that had affected us, as individuals and as a country. And when Reagan listened, he really made you feel like he was absorbing everything about you.

President Reagan has always been connected in my mind with my grandparents. My grandmother was extremely fond of him, and was terribly bothered by protesters that would come when he spoke, at that time Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant was the big issue in NH when Reagan came to town. She used to say, "free speech is fine, but there ought to be a certain amount of respect and decency for the office of the Presidency". More than what these people held for signs standing outside of where the President was going to speak bothered her, was the fact that they shouted during his speaking, that they dressed inappropriately for such an event, etc. I was very young the first time that I went to see Reagan speak with her, and like most 12 year olds, I thought that she was just "old fashioned". Now, I wish that I could tell her that I understand, that her respect for this man who never took off his jacket and tie in the oval office was well placed, but I can't, because like Reagan did, my grandmother suffers from Alzheimers. So I guess that tonight the best thing that I can do is what Reagan asked us to do when he found out of his slide into this disease, to take care of the family that suffers alongside silently. I will go write to my grandfather, and then I will say a prayer for Ronald Reagan and his family.

The second thing that I wanted to say was-
Scott, get that portrait ready for a vigil! Reagan's life deserves celebrating, for certainly we wouldn't have the lives that we do today if it weren't for his leadership.

America was blessed to have him, and we will never forget him.

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