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Remembering Reagan

I was born in 1973, just as Watergate was taking down a vice president and setting its sights on a president.

Within 10 months, Nixon was gone, Ford was in the Oval Office and Carter was a couple of years down the road. Of course, I don't remember any of them. My first presidential recollection is from March 30, 1981 -- the day Ronald Reagan was shot.

But the date doesn't stick out in my mind because of the event. Instead, what I remember about that day is what the shooting pre-empted -- my after-school cartoons.

You see, I have always been a creature of habit and in those days my afternoon routine was focused on Tom and Jerry on TV. I remember sitting in our den and huffing about how nothing was more important than my cartoons. After all, there had been dozens of presidents before Ronald Reagan and there'd be dozens of presidents after him.

My attitude changed five years later with the Challenger disaster. I didn't understand at the time, but I do now. Reagan had the ability to coalesce America's emotion: our sadness was his sadness and our loss was his loss, just as our successes were his successes and our triumphs were his triumphs.

Whether you agreed with his politics or not, Reagan's contribution to American is hard to deny: He made a lot of people proud to be American again. He rekindled an American spirit ravaged by hostage crisis, war and world politics.

And at the end of his life he showed us how we should all face death -- head held high and your family's well-being in the forefront.

But that doesn't make things any easier. Admittedly, I only skirted news reports during the day Saturday. But when I could get in front of a television Saturday night, I watched for a long while. Since then I've read countless stories, analysis and columns.

I'm proud to say I'm a Ronald Reagan fan -- he's part of the reason I tilt to the right on most political issues.

I think history will regard him as one of our greatest leaders and it will have very little to do with voodoo economics, hostage negotiations or invasions. He'll be judged on the old adage: Reagan left America much better than he found it. And when it comes down to it, that's all you can ask from a head of state.

And, on another subject, all I can ask is a little forgiveness.

It truly did not hit anyone in The Mirror office until a phone call Thursday morning that we had done something awful. On the front page of last week's Mirror, we ran a great picture from Jim Wallace of Anthony Duckworth watering plants in downtown Thomson. Between the time that picture was snapped and The Mirror came out a week later, Mr. Duckworth had passed away.

I can't imagine what his family must have felt when they saw The Mirror last week and I apologize to them. God bless y'all.

And Ronald Reagan's family too.

Web posted on Friday, June 11, 2004

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