Tonight my wife and five

Tonight my wife and five year old daughter and I went to a concert at an amphitheater near our home. We drank some beer and listened to two very good blues bands I’d never heard of. It was a lovely summer night, only drizzling occasionally. I thought, What a great night to be alive. And that reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about for a very long time. It was about 1984, and a group of us had sat down at a table at an outdoor restaurant on a beautiful summer day. We were talking about what a fine day it was, and as our waitress approached the table my then-father in law said, “It’s a great day to be alive.” The waitress, who wasn’t more than twenty-one, smiled and said, as if mildly correcting him, “It’s a great day to be alive in America.” We all laughed and agreed she was right. And I thought to myself, That’s Ronald Reagan’s doing. Five years ago, a twenty-one year old girl wouldn’t have said such a thing. At that time I had only recently switched over from being a Democrat, and I had no inkling of the momentous events that were yet to come. But Reagan’s most lasting gift was already evident: he helped make it possible for young people to feel, once again, that it was great to be an American. Today that spirit is all around us. But to me, the time when it appeared to be almost extinct seems like only yesterday.


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