Reagan: Always Presidential

Historians will long debate Reagan’s legacy in American and world politics such as his pivotal role (along with Pope John Paul II) in the fall of communism, the Iran-Contra scandal and Reaganomics. What may get lost in the historical translation is the human dimension — his sense of humor, fatherly compassion and common sense.

His administration’s role in Central America is highly debatable. His legacy as a Hollywood actor is second-rate at best. But Reagan was always “presidential” as he represented the U.S. on the world stage. There was something reassuring about watching him interact with Margaret Thatcher, Gorbachev and the Holy Father during periods of serious world crises. Neither George Bush (I or II), nor Bill Clinton have been able to duplicate this sense of trust.

Reagan’s life spanned nearly the entire 20th century. He lived through both World Wars, the Great Depression, Hollywood’s “golden era,” McCarthyism, the Vietnam War and the ‘60s. He set the political agenda for the century’s final two decades. Although not a veteran, it seemed appropriate that Reagan died as the world prepared to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. His death occurred the day after President Bush met with the pope.

Reagan was fondly remembered by Catholic and pro-life groups alike.

“Ronald Reagan occupies a special place in the hearts of all of us in the Knights of Columbus,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, former director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. “He was a man of deep and abiding faith for whom prayer was an integral part of his daily life.”

Anderson said that on trail rides at his California ranch, Reagan would often recite the prayer of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”

It was during Reagan’s presidency in 1984 that diplomatic relations were established between the United States and the Holy See. Reagan joined the Knights’ centennial celebration in 1982 and informed the order in his speech to the 1986 convention that his grandfather had been a Knight.

“He was one of our greatest presidents, in no small part because of the sincerity of his love of Christ, and his humble effort to live every day in His service,” Anderson said.

“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dear friend, President Ronald Wilson Reagan,” said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League (ALL) in Stafford. “There is little question that Ronald Reagan will be remembered as one of the greatest presidents in our country’s history.”

Brown said ALL is particularly grateful for Reagan’s steadfast effort to restore the dignity inherent to each and every human being’s life through his Personhood Proclamations in 1984 and 1988. “We pray that our Lord will comfort the Reagan family as they deal with the profound loss they have suffered,” Brown said.

(Michael F. Flach is editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald, where this article first appeared.)

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