I remember when I met Ronald Reagan. It was the summer of 1986 and I was 18 and working in the office of our local Chamber of Commerce. Two weeks before his arrival, the Secret Service used the Chamber of Commerce office as their command center. For two weeks, our office was in total upheaval. The media were swarming, radio stations calling hourly and the Secret Service just took our offices over and we couldn’t get a thing done.
Various motorcade route maps were pinned up all over the walls and the Secret Service were crawling all over the place. One afternoon, one of the Secret Service guys took me on his ’rounds’ of our downtown area, walking along the rooftops of the buildings – he pointed out all the areas of vulnerability and explained the procedures they take to secure these areas. Then we went up to the lake and watched a practice landing and take off of the Presidential helicopter on the bluffs in Port Washington.
The day came for the President’s arrival and at the last minute – the head of the Secret Service invited all of us who worked in the office to the luncheon that the President would be speaking at. President Reagan was speaking in front of the Rotary Club – which, back then, was an all male organization. We were allowed into the club – however, we weren’t allowed to sit down and partake of lunch – us women had to stand along the back wall and watch the Rotary Club members and the President and his guests eat – then were able to listen to his speech.
Today, I look back on that and I can’t fathom women being required to stand along the back wall while the men ate – – not in this day and age. However, back then – we were all pretty thrilled to have the opportunity to see the President and listen to him speak, we didn’t think twice about it. Afterwards, I was able to walk up and shake his hand and let him know how much I admired him.
His handshake was firm. His eyes sparkled as his eyes made contact with mine – and his smile, genuine and warm as he thanked me for all the hard work of making his visit possible.
To me, Reagan was a political giant — and one of my heros. I was saddened the day I found out he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – – as a nurse, I’ve seen all too many times the affects of that disease. He handled his discovery of the diagnosis with such class and grace.
Today, my hero, President Ronald Reagan died. The legacy of this great man lingers everywhere in the world. May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in his legacy and all that he gave to his country, and the world.
Rest in peace, Mr. President.
** Update **
James has some great Reagan pictures.
Politburo Diktat has a great blog round up of posts throughout the blogosphere.
Jay feels the same way I do with My Hero, Rest In Peace
Joe’s post over at Dean’s World pays a nice tribute.
Read Robert’s thoughts.
Mickey remembers his seven-year old naivite regarding Reagan – his father corrected his misconceptions.