All this week my contributions to the blogosphere--such as they are--have been interrupted by the tyranny of the urgent: I've been moving my office. It is one of my least favorite things to do. Moving my books--and there are lots and lots of them--is quite a task. Even if I am only moving my office books rather than the whole library, we're looking at a Herculean undertaking.
But in the midst of all the loading and shuffling this afternoon, I got word of the death of former president Ronald Reagan. I wasn't surprised, of course. I had read only this morning that his health was failing rapidly. Nevertheless, I was taken aback. Reagan helped to change this country. He helped to change the world. He helped to change me.
This spring I began reading the marvelous collection, Reagan: A Life in Letters, edited by Kiron Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson (Free Press). It is a massive compendium of letters written by Reagan throughout his life and career. The first is dated November 21, 1922 when he was just 11 years old. The last is dated November 14, 1994 when he was already suffering the effects of Alzheimer's disease. In between are hundreds of letters demonstrating the kindness, wisdom, strength of character, and wit that he exemplified throughout his public life and made him the "great communicator"--only here we see that the man was never posing, never posturing, never faking it; he was the genuine article.
Already, talk TV is droning on and on about Ronald Reagan, the man and the legacy. My recommendation is that you read the man himself. Read his letters. Read his autobiography. Read the scripts of his radio addresses. Read the love letters he wrote to his wife, Nancy. Then you will have a far better estimate of this remarkable American hero.
A wonderful tribute to Ronald Reagan may be found at Rod Martin's always helpful website, The Vanguard.
Today, our local newspaper ran a little profile on me. It was all very nice--and for that I am grateful; I've had plenty of the other kind through the years! There were a few factual errors, of course. My wife Karen was most disturbed to discover, for instance, that I was married to someone named Jennifer!