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Personal Thoughts on Reagan’s 100th Birthday

Posted by traceyporreca on February 6, 2011

There has been much talk leading up to the celebration of Ronald Reagan’s 100th Birthday. I see so many conservative young people posting pictures and articles about him, saying how much they admire him. I think this is wonderful, but sometimes it’s difficult to fully understand the legacy left by someone unless you were there to witness a portion of it. I’d like to tell you a little of my memories of Ronald Reagan, and what he meant to me.

I was in high school when Ronald Reagan was elected president. I come from a liberal family and background and so there really wasn’t a lot of talk about him when he was elected, at least at home. However, I had a wonderful US Government teacher. He was a Navy veteran. I was fascinated with his stories and with his perspective. I learned a lot from him about pride in America and patriotism and what it meant to live in this great country.

A couple of years later, I decided to join the US Navy. A lot of things went into my decision. Honestly, I can’t say patriotism factored into it at the time. Some of what I had learned about our country inspired me to look into serving, but it was more about getting away and striking my own path and the military seemed a good fit. A lot of friends and family were surprised I joined. I’ve always been the type of person who does things that others don’t expect. I think that’s why I fit so well in Alaska. We’re all a bit like that up here. We don’t follow the typical path to most things. We cut our own way, and that’s what I hoped to do by enlisting.

Ronald Reagan had almost completed his first term when I enlisted. Whether this was a direct result of Reagan’s handling of the military at the time, I am uncertain, but I do know there was an effort to enlist more women and so there we all were at the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) center nervously taking our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States under our Commander in Chief, Ronald Reagan.

There is much to be said for Navy boot camp – it certainly gives you an education in the history and traditions of the United States and the military. I can’t say I enjoyed my time as it was challenging at times, but I was very proud when I was one of the ones who had made it through the process and graduated.

I went to MR “A” School, a school which teaches you to become a machinery repairman, a designation in the Navy which basically equates to being a civilian machinist, and transferred to my first duty station, the Naval Submarine Support Facility in Groton, Connecticut where I made replacement parts for nuclear submarines. It was there that a learned a great deal about the military and pride in work. It was also where I had a front row seat to one of the most tragic events in our nation’s history – The Challenger Disaster.

Working at the submarine base in Groton, we were directly involved in the recovery of what was left of the Challenger. It is now common knowledge that the astronauts, at least some of them, survived the initial breakup of the craft. Unfortunately, we knew that back then and it was hard to see fellow service members struggling with that realization as they worked to recover the debris from the bottom of the Atlantic. Things like that stick with you and shape you. Those experiences certainly allowed me to have an enormous amount of respect for those who were lost, and their families. President Reagan gave one of his most moving speeches after that event. It was a time when the nation needed to be comforted and his speech allowed us, as a nation, to move forward with the process of healing.

And who can forget one of the pinnacle moments in world history, when communism fell. I am a military veteran of the cold war era that was coming to a close under this great man’s leadership. One of the finest and most iconic speeches was given at the Brandenburg gate, Ronald Reagan’s “Berlin Wall” speech:

There were many other moments, such as the assassination attempt on Reagan’s life, that shaped my perspective. I have many proud moments, honors and commendations, from serving under this great man. I left the service about the same time he left office, and I can’t imagine serving under any finer a leader. I am so very proud to have served under President Ronald Reagan.

Much has been said about Reagan as a leader since he left office. Of course there are those who did not appreciate his policies or worldview but I feel our world is better for the time he spent as our president. He was a true leader and I’m so happy that 100 years after his birth, we still have Nancy Reagan and there are still so many alive who remember, and honor, and respect all that he accomplished.

Gary Sinise is another great actor who has become something of a statesman in his own right. In recent years, he has devoted much of his time and energy to honoring our military, through his work with the USO and many other avenues. Today, he had the opportunity to speak as part of the Reagan 100 celebration. Please watch his speech in the video below:

Also, please take the time to honor Reagan’s memory, and legacy, by viewing this video tour of the Reagan Library with Gary Sinise.

As posted on Alaskans4Palin.

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One Response to “Personal Thoughts on Reagan’s 100th Birthday”

  1. […] Personal Thoughts on Reagan’s 100th Birthday […]

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