"...On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, "Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of . . . . On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves."It was a Tuesday and I was a junior in high school. I did not see the inauguration because I was at school, but I distinctly remember the headlines the next day. The hostages were coming home. I almost felt sorry for Jimmy Carter. It was the last in a long line of humiliations he suffered during his administration.
Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children's children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom..." Inaugural Address 01/20/81
A new day was dawning. Ronald Reagan had taken the helm and we would see what direction he would take this country. Many were unsure of this President. After all, he was from California and a former actor to boot, but America wasn't happy with Jimmy Carter and wanted a change. He turned out to be a great leader who helped to bring down the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism in Europe among many other events.
There are many things I remember about the Reagan years. First and foremost, he was the first President I voted for when he ran again in 1984. But there are so many snippets of events that come to mind when I think about the first year of his Presidency...the assassination attempt not long after he was inaugurated, Jelly Belly jelly beans, the air traffic controller strike, his nomination of the first female Supreme Court judge - Sandra Day O'Connor, Anwar Sadat's assassination, and others. He seemed almost fatherly (or grandfatherly) and offered a sense of security. For all the doubt about his abilities and those who would label him a puppet who did not really lead, he is now considered one of the U.S.'s greatest statesmen. It is only now, looking back, that I realize how my life, our country and our world was changed by his presidency.
(For more memories about Ronald Reagan and his presidency, visit Mike's America for the Reagan 25th Inaugural Anniversary celebration.)