Monday, June 07, 2004

Farewell to Ronald Reagan

One of my favorite wordsmiths, Peggy Noonan, bids farewell to a beloved president beautifully in her column. Says Noonan: "He was dying for years and the day came and somehow it came as a blow. Not a loss but a blow. How could this be?"

I agree. President Reagan, thanks to Alzheimer's, was essentially dead to the public scene for the past several years, but his death Saturday somehow both surprised and saddened me.

I watched today as Nancy Reagan laid her head briefly on her husband's flag-draped coffin, and tears filled my eyes as her daughter Patti--at one time angry and estranged from her parents--put her arm around her mother and comforted her tenderly. As the mother of a daughter, my heart was gladdened that the rift between the two women is so obviously healed.

That was already clear a few months ago, when Patti Davis vigorously defended her father when HBO wanted to run a TV movie depicting him as a half-crazed bigot. Davis said the depiction couldn't have been further from the truth.

One of my most vivid Ronald Reagan memories occurred just as I was beginning my career here at WQFL (101QFL.) I had been working here for one week, just learning the ropes from then-news director Wes Bleed, who now works for Chicago's WGN Radio.

Monday, March 30, 1981, was to be my first day on the air. However, that was the day that President Reagan was shot, and we stayed with the ABC network all day, so I never went on the air that day. It certainly made for a memorable first day on the job. I will never forget my profound relief when I realized the president was going to make it.

From everything I've read about Ronald Reagan, he was a man trusted in Christ as His Saviour, and I believe he's in heaven today. I like how Jeri Massi puts it in her blog:

"Ronald Reagan truly suffered the loss of all things: all that he knew, all the memory of what he had done, all the intimacy of knowing and loving his own closest loved ones. And now in Christ he truly has gained the wealth and the bounty and the bright light of heaven. I'm happy for him. He's free; he's restored to his right mind, and he sees his Saviour face to face and will never sin again. Thank God he's free at last from chains that no human medicine or skill could unlock."

I too am happy for Ronald Reagan...but I am sad for America today. Not just for the loss of a great man, but because of the ugliness I see around me that makes me want to give up hope. I see traditional marriage and family being destroyed and unborn babies being annihilated by judicial mandate. I see pornography and heinous child abuse being allowed to run rampant. I see evangelical Christians being belittled and mocked. I see so many things that make my heart hurt for this great country.

But all these things tend to more strongly impress upon me the need for us as Christians to be salt and light to those around let Christ's love shine more strongly through us, dispelling the great darkness around us.

And I take hope and optimism from the words of Ronald Reagan:

"Let us resolve tonight that young Americans will always ... find there a city of hope in a country that is free.... And let us resolve they will say of our day and our generation, we did keep the faith with our God, that we did act worthy of ourselves, that we did protect and pass on lovingly that shining city on a hill." — Election Eve speech, Nov. 3, 1980

I still want to believe in that shining city on a hill.

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