As I walked out of the movie theater this afternoon my phone buzzed announcing a news alert had just arrived. As I opened up the message it simple read,
3:59pm Break News: Former President Ronald Reagan has died.
I had been watching the news off an on all morning as the 60th Anniversary D-Day celebrations kicked into high gear. Through the broadcasts they had been saying that President Reagan had taken a turn for the worse and that he might have only months or weeks left. Apparently he had contracted pneumonia and no longer had the strength to fight. After suffering 10 years of Alzheimer his passing was probably more of a blessing than anything else.
Regardless of how individual Americans felt about the man and his particular beliefs, I have no doubt that they will feel a loss of a man who became the very embodiment of the title President of the United States of America. His policies will be debated long into the future, long after everyone alive have themselves passed into the misty past.
Anytime we loose a President we feel a loss. With Reagan that loss will be felt acutely, if only because of his huge and long lasting presence. He had been a part of American life for some seven decades. First as an actor, then as a Governor and finally as President. His last 10 years were quiet and secluded as he and his family fought the ultimate battle against the ultimate disease of the mind. Surely when he passed he had little or no memory of his contributions to not just America, but the world at large. It will be up to us to remember him and his legacy. Love him or hate him, it can not be denied nor easily dismissed.
Let his final words as President ring out and peer into his soul:
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
We've done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
And so, goodbye, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
Good-bye Mr. President, you have surely "slipped the surly bonds of earth... to touch the face of God."