The spontaneous outpouring of emotion on the occasion of President Reagan’s death seems to me unprecedented for a former president in the modern era. In my lifetime, rightly or wrongly, I know that few noticed or cared when Dwight Eisenhower died in 1969, when Harry Truman died in 1972, when Lyndon Johnson died in 1973, or when Richard Nixon died in 1994.
The desire of ordinary citizens to express their gratitude and pay their respects to President Reagan appears to be akin to that which arose on the death of serving presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy.
During his eight years in office, President Reagan was the subject of a relentless campaign of disinformation and defamation by the left all over the world as well as by every major media outlet in the United States. Nevertheless, we now see, the magnitude of his accomplishments somehow imprinted itself on the consciousness of the country at large, if not on the arbiters of reputation and enlightened opinion.
For ten years we have known of President Reagan’s illness and decline. He was last seen in public in 1997. His death at age 93 cannot have been felt by his family as anything other than a fulfillment and release. Yet we mourn his passing. We celebrate his life. We recognize his greatness.
In so doing we reject the received wisdom of the organs of mainstream opinion, who proceed merrily to continue with President Bush where they left off with President Reagan. The uprising of a free people against the instruction of their presumed betters strikes a gloriously appropriate note in the ceremonial tribute to President Reagan.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill