Mr. Ronald Reagan?
I was about 7 or 8 years old when my parents decided that they wanted to see Ronald Reagan in San Pedro. They were republicans at the time. I was 7 or 8 -- so like today, I guess I would have been an "NP" (non-partisan -- as I am registered today...). I have never really been a political person, but I guess there are certain political occurrences that affect you through life... like when John Kennedy was assassinated. I was in the second grade. We had just returned from lunch on the playground at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic School. When I got to the classroom our "Play Leader," an 8th grade girl, was crying. She said, "Someone killed the President..." hmmm... strange how some moments in time stay in one's mind.
Faded Photographs - Hmmm... I was there...
Ronald Reagan campaigning for governor.
Speaking to the audience in San Pedro, California 1960's.
Hmmm... I was there... I was 7 or 8...
Running for Governor
I don't really remember much beyond the fact that my parents were pretty excited about Mr. Reagan running for governor. I remember the appearance in San Pedro gave my dad the chance to use our new "Fotron" camera! He even got an autograph! In retrospect it's somewhat amusing... I mean my dad simply was not the type of person to get "star-struck" -- but apparently Mr. Reagan left quite an impression. I'm sure that my folks had all sorts of reasons for believing that he was the best choice. It didn't seem to affect me one way or the other... but they were happy about it, so I guess that made me happy too -- Oh, did I mention that I was 7... or 8...?
President Ronald ReaganNow when former Governor Ronald Reagan ran for President... that I remember a little better, though as I recall I was a somewhat mindless twenty-something and eventhough I was in college, I was both a bit ignorant and naive -- at the time however, I believed I knew it ALL! In the 1970s, I was registered as a democrat because my brother, a democrat, ran for office in California a couple of times and I wanted to vote for him in the primaries... like most people who run under funded campaigns my brother ran a great "shoe-string" campaign and was well liked locally, but could not hope to beat opponents spending 20 or 30 times as much money as he could...
Anyway back on topic -- when Reagan ran for President, our president at the time was one of the nicest and kindest human beings on the planet. His name was Jimmy Carter, and to my knowledge this man was truly incapable of being mean. That virtue, I believe was a characteristic that put the USA in a very dangerous position. I am not saying that Mr. Reagan was any less virtuous, but the charisma and charm that made Ronald Reagan a popular actor were assets that Mr. Carter (as most people) simply did not possess -- also, Reagan's "tough guy" film roles seemed to work to his advantage in diplomacy -- I remember hearing that the Soviet hierarchy watched those films over and over and could not distinguish the affable President from the film characters that he portrayed.
You can't really blame Jimmy Carter for many of the events that led to such a problem-plagued presidency. His election was a "reaction" to a period of cynicism and abuse in US politics that literally left the entire country reeling. The crescendo of this sad opera was of course the American "hostages" in Iran, coupled with poor diplomacy with Iran and a completely botched rescue effort -- the United States reached an all time low...
Reagan would prove to be the answer to all of these woes. When he became President it signaled a rebirth of spirit in this country. I will end it here, rather than go into a litany of all his accomplishments and the various events which he was part of. I am sure the researchers and talking heads will debate those ad infinitum and the "minutia experts" will continue to dissect.
I'll just leave it here and say, thanks Mr. Reagan...
Postscript & ClosureWe went to pay our respects today (June 11, 2004) -- my wife, my two daughters and my mom were able to make the trek up to Newbury Park, CA (near Simi Valley) to witness the motorcade and wave goodbye... my father will probably be among the first to greet President Reagan when he reaches his destination, I know he wouldn't want to miss the chance to get another autograph...
Photo of Ronald Reagan funeral procession
Newbury Park, CA 6-11-2004
Hmmm... I was there... I wasn't 7 or 8...
Gigliotti, Lorenzo. "Me & Politics... Mr. Ronald Reagan?" The Random Times
The quixotic mind of Lorenzo Gigliotti
All rights reserved © 2004 FG Enterprises, Long Beach, California