President Reagan died yesterday, apparently of pneumonia and other complications of his ten-year losing battle against Alzheimer's disease. Those who know me well know the very high regard with which I hold him. My enthusiasm for his political leadership and goals began during the 1976 campaign for the Republican nomination against Gerald Ford. I was only fifteen years old at the time and I heard a snippet of a speech he made about the Panama Canal Treaty which Carter had signed with Omar Torrijos, then the strongman running Panama. He (Reagan) pointed out that he was opposed to "giving the American canal in Panama to a tin-horned dictator." Probably not a practical expression of American foreign policy, given what that dictator would have done had we not agreed to transfer the canal to his control. But that simple expression of what everybody deep down knew to be the truth made me sit up and take notice. By the time of the Republican convention, which was, back in those days actually broadcast on network television I was hooked. The first presidential election for which I was old enough to vote was 1980 and it was a triumph.
His passing is in a way the closing of a chapter in U.S. history. Certainly it is the closing of a chapter in my own life. But there are many more chapters to come because it really was "morning in America". May he rest in peace.