Nineteen-eleven was a vintage year. It was the year that gave us Ronald Reagan, one of the most decent, honorable, hardworking men to ever sit in the Oval Office. While the country at large is full of great Americans, they sometimes seem to be scarce in areas where the trappings of power can alter a persons sense of reality.
There is nothing more annoying than a person with an aggrandized sense of self-basking in the glow of their own self-importance-and nothing more admirable than a person whose quiet sense of personal integrity is uncorrupted by power.
Reagan could have been the kindly grandfather living down the street. He often reminded me of my own Pennsylvania farmer grandfather who was also born in that fine year, 1911.
The life lessons absorbed from the Gipper are the subject of Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinsons book, How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life. As always, the lessons learned through experience are the most profound.
You can tell a great deal about executives, be they corporate, private or 501(c)3ers, by the way they treat the least person on the staff. In other words, the styles of Ronald Reagan and Hillary Clinton were vastly different.
Reagan was president of the greatest nation on earth but never forgot his roots. His faith in the good Lord gave his life a center. A foreign dignitary or a little old lady with a fake White House invitation would be treated with equal respect.
Reagan believed in the value of hard work. Robinson recounts that Reagan did much of the physical labor on Rancho del Cielo himself-chopping wood, riding horses, and building fences. He didnt see work as an affront to human dignity but rather as cooperation in Gods creation. In opposing confiscatory taxation, which robs men of the fruits of their labor, Reagan was defending the dignity of work.
The Berlin speech turned out to be one of the most fought over in the Reagan Administration. No fewer than seven other drafts were presented for the presidents consideration. Riding with deputy chief of staff Ken Duberstein a few hours before the speech, Reagan slapped Ken Dubersteins knee and said, “The boys at State are going to kill me, but its the right thing to do.” Walls come down much faster with direct language than with dreamy wishes of hoping for freedom one day.
Robinson reflects on how the Reagan speechwriters were able to work their craft so that Reagan sounded like Reagan while someone else was doing the actual writing. Soaking up the attitudes and directness of their boss made the job easier. No fence sitting. An evil empire is an evil empire.
The core of Reagans presidency was about what was good for the country as opposed to the “its all about me” attitude. How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life is a wonderfully uplifting reflection on the life of a truly great man and how virtue can be applied to anyones life. Ronald Reagan was not great because he was famous, but great because he was so good.
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