Going Home

As I write this, former President Ronald Reagan is being transported aboard SAM 28000 back to California for interment at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He is going home for the last time.

I have watched much of this week’s proceedings, from the motorcade from the library to the airbase, his arrival in Washington D.C., the caisson procession to the Capitol and the memorial service there, and today’s service at the Washington National Cathedral. I must say that I have been moved at several points.

Perhaps the most striking moment for me was when one media personality mentioned Reagan’s belief that communism was an aberration. Most people, at that time, believed in co-existence with communism as an alternative methodology.

Not Ronald Reagan. Reagan believed that communism was, as I see it, a form of slavery. Indeed, it is.

Consider this: under communism, and the Soviet-style “command economy,” people are told what they are to do for the country, regardless of their passion: the government sees a particular need, the potential (however relevant) in the individual, and they place that individual into that job. The government owns their home, their car, the business they work for — everything. They are told where to live, where to work, what to wear, what to drive, when to eat — everything. Sounds like slavery to me.

American corporations can do similar things with people. For instance, the last company that I worked for hired me initially as a part-time web designer. After six weeks, when it was evident that my back was up against the financial wall, they put me into sales.

I found out later that putting me into sales was their intention before they hired me. Had I known this, I would not have taken the job, as I have tired of sales and wish to move into web publishing as a career: my collegiate background is in Journalism, Photography, English and History; the Internet didn’t exist as we know it when I went to The Ohio State University back in 1977. Moving into web publishing, for me, was in a sense “going home” to my first love, a form of Journalism.

So sales, even Internet sales, was a form of slavery to me. Needless to say, the position didn’t work out, and now I free-lance while I look for gainful employment as a web designer.

This is freedom, and it is a price of freedom. Reagan believed that everyone would rather be free than be a slave, and I tend to agree with him. He stood tall against “the Evil Empire,” and his posture was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back: communism and the Soviet empire crumbled.

For this, and many other reasons, Reagan will be remembered as a great president. He should be. He brought back optimism, determination, will and strength back to the office of the President. I have no doubt that he will be honored as one of the greatest presidents, although the memorial in Washington D.C. is at least 25 years away. In the interim, they are talking about changing our money…

His funeral was totally appropriate and absolutely amazing. I watched the proceedings, totally riveted to CNN, for the last couple of days, and I will never forget it. I loved watching the military as they presented Mr. Reagan to the country: such formality and precision! I missed President Johnson’s state funeral for some odd reason, and I was 5 years old when Kennedy died (so I only remember the black-and-white photos of the caissons on the streets of Washington D.C.), so for my first state funeral, this was truly impressive.

Note: Ronald Reagan was the first president that I ever voted for. I am a liberal Independent voter, and I voted for him twice. I like to think that I made the right choice. I also like to think that the country made the right choice — at the right time.

Mr. Reagan had it all, and he used it masterfully.

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On Nancy Reagan:

I have watched amazed at how the media is treating Nancy Reagan this week. It’s like they forget that Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s Disease. Of course, they don’t forget this, but they don’t seem to understand her “strength and stoicism.”

My mother died from Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a long haul. A very long haul. It’s difficult, harder than you can imagine. And it’s mostly depressing, since you have to watch a loved one deteriorate slowly, day by day, into a helpless pile of corporeal mass.

At the end, I was a mush of conflicting thoughts and feelings: I felt relieved, as the long ordeal was over; I felt sad, as my mother was gone; I felt happy, because I knew she had gone to a better place, and that she was in a much better condition; I felt exhausted from the depression; I felt angry, because she left me alone; I felt joy, also because she left — to go to a better place.

The hardest part comes after the burial: everyone leaves to go about their business, and you are left alone. The idea is to rest, but that is when the memories return, and the going gets rough.

I understand the apparent stoicism; I’ve been there. The media is right about Nancy Reagan, though: she is strong, a tough cookie, and she will weather this storm well. I sincerely hope and pray that Nancy Reagan turns to her close friends and family during the next week or so. It’ll help.

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