Monday, June 05, 2006

I interviewed Michael Reagan

"He [Ronald Reagan] never looked at the mirror and said, 'Look at me, I am wonderful, I am great.' He always gave credit to other people. He always believed that he was put on this earth by God to do whatever God's will was. And when he became president, and accomplished the things he accomplished, he believed it was God's will, not his will, that was taking place. I think most of us need to start living what God would like us to do instead of always saying, 'Me, me, me...' but 'God, what what you like me to accomplish today?' And my dad would say that, each and every day of his presidency, 'What would you like me to accomplish today? Whatever it is, I want you to be there, God.' And you know, God blessed this nation because Ronald Reagan was president, and he blessed this nation because Ronald Reagan asked for God's help and guidance each and every day of his life." --Michael Reagan in my interview with him

Talk show host and author Michael Reagan, eldest son of the late president Ronald Reagan, is coming to Rockford June 14th to speak at the Rockford Rescue Mission's annual spring fundraising event. In advance of that, I interviewed Michael for my show, Weekend Rockford, today.

I found him pleasant, self-effacing, and knowledgeable. And his story touched my heart.

Michael was adopted by Ronald Reagan and movie star Jane Wyman. His parents divorced when he was a very small boy, and he says he grew up, not so much as Ronald Reagan's son, but as the son of Jane Wyman, who was a very well-respected and well-know actress in her day.

Michael told me that divorce is tough on a young child. He says it's like going into a child's room and breaking everything, then expecting the child to put it all back together.

He does have fond memories of time spent with his dad while he was growing up.

Childhood trauma

However, something happened to him at the age of 8 that forever changed and influenced his life. He was sexually molested by a day camp counselor. Pornographic pictures were taken of him, with threats to make them public.

He lived many years with the guilt and shame that accompanies such childhood trauma...thinking he was somehow responsible, even thinking it had happened to him because he had been born illegitimate.

Michael tells the story of how faith in Christ changed his life, in the book Twice Adopted.

An unrehearsed speech

I told Michael how impressed I was with his words at his father's memorial service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and with his heartfelt and articulate expressions of his and his father's faith.

Amazingly, Michael told me he used no notes when he spoke at the service. "I gotta tell you, you've really got to give credit to God for that. I had no idea what I was going to say. I don't write speeches...that just doesn't work out well for me.

"...What was interesting, is we were flying back from Washington D.C....Ron and Patti were working on their speeches, and they had written them, they were practicing...and I thought, 'Well, maybe this time I should really write something. I've only got a short amount of time and I want to get it right.

"And I started to write something. But I kept on throwing papers away, throwing papers away. And my 23 year old daughter Ashley said, 'What are you doing, Dad?' I said, 'I'm writing something for Grandpa's eulogy.' And she looked at me and said, 'Oh, don't ruin it!' She said, 'You don't write speeches; don't start today!
Put down that paper and pencil just relax, you'll do OK.'

"And when I got off Air Force One, and got into the car to go up the library, a friend of mine, Mark Larson, and another friend of mine from church both had left prayers for me on my cell phone, and had just prayed that I would find the right words to say when I got up there, because they both knew I was going to be the
first one to speak.

"And as we're driving up the library, it was like God talked to me and said, 'You know, all week long we've heard about a president...why don't you tell them about your dad?'

"And that's what you got."

The Michael Reagan Show is heard daily on over 200 radio stations in the U-S and internationally on

Michael Reagan will speak at the Rockford Rescue Mission's annual spring fundraiser June 14th at First Evangelical Free Church. For more information, go to the mission's website.

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