Many feel deep sense of loss

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 8, 2004

The personal sense of loss I felt as I watched the breaking news on TV Saturday afternoon was felt by many.

Former President Ronald Reagan, clearly America’s greatest president, was dead at 93, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

That loss felt by so many across the county is a tribute to President Reagan. Through his actions, his speeches, his demeanor, we learned many things, not the least of which was that to be an American, a true American, was a very special thing.

In every way, he demonstrated that. He was also a testament to the fact that hope and positive outcomes will arise from a positive outlook.

President Reagan was the first president that I remember. I was only 7 years old when he was elected and sworn in the first time.

I can remember that I was watching the day he was shot on Jan. 20, 1981. I was home from school that day with some kind of flu.

It was alarming to see someone I considered untouchable to be attacked like that with the TV cameras running. On a recent trip to Washington D.C., I saw the place where that horrible attack occurred. It was just a regular door, a back entrance to that hotel; but it was amazing how I had demonized it at such a young age.

I was also watching when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up in 1986 and President Reagan addressed the nation, assuring Americans while sharing our shock and sadness.

Then, I was watching one year later as he told Mikhail Gorbachev, &uot;Tear down this wall.&uot; Of course, he was referring specifically to the Berlin Wall but metaphorically, the wall of Communism which had forever separated that part of the world from the rest of us.

President Reagan looked at America and did not see what we were not. He saw what we could become. He looked at the world that same way, and set out to change it. And change it, he did. He was the force that halted Communism.

It was his conviction that there was a better way that led him to fight long and hard to &uot;tear down that wall.&uot;

It was that clear love of America that came out in every word, in every look of Ronald Reagan that endeared him to myself and so many others.

He did some other great things – cut taxes, reduced government, curbed liberal judicial activism – but it was his love of America that I will always remember.

In one of his incredible speeches, he said, &uot;America is too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We have every right to dream heroic dreams.&uot;

It is this outlook and his belief that in &uot;the shining city on a hill&uot; the best is always yet to come that I will forever hold dear when thinking of President Reagan. What an incredible legacy.

Candace Parker is the news editor at the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at