Ronald Reagan spoke to the Republican National Convention in 1962. His speech immediately draws me in when he speaks of his long life.
In my life’s journey over these past eight decades, I have seen the human race through a period of unparalleled tumult and triumph. I have seen the birth of communism and the death of communism. I have witnessed the bloody futility of two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. I have seen Germany united, divided and united again. I have seen television grow from a parlor novelty to become the most powerful vehicle of communication in history. As a boy I saw streets filled with Model-Ts; as a man I have met men who walked on the moon.
He goes on to talk about the dangers of living and working under the veil of communism, the threat of nuclear holocaust, and how American might and determination were somehow obstacles to peace. When the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War was won, Reagan said, the world opened its eyes.
I remember the day the Berlin Wall fell. It was my freshman year of high school, and the entire school sat in the cafeteria and watched the live events unfold on TV. The image of a man holding one of those bricks, and another of one standing on the wall, is etched in my mind.
About two months after Reagan died, I toured his presidential museum. My diary dates the visit on July 17, 2004. I don’t remember much, but I thought it ironic the library and museum were situated on the apex of a hill within the community of Simi Valley. I remember placards and display cases and videos about his childhood, and progression through Hollywood movies to governor to president. He had many accomplishments, but I most remember Reagan for privatizing Amtrak and conceptualizing the so-called ‘Star Wars’ system.
Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, in 1962, said, “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
Reagan tried. In his 1992 RNC speech, he said, “Now let’s not dismiss our current troubles, but where they see only problems, I see possibilities – as vast and diverse as the American family itself.”
How would Clinton and Obama respond?