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… On Me Alone

Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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A view of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, as he delivers his Inaugural address from a specially built platform in front of the Capitol during the Inauguration Day celebration.

Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address, like a fine wine, continues to improve with time. Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, and Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” Speech are like that. But Reagan’s words echo – loudly – right now. Why? 

In 1980, the world was a train wreck, a major recession was underway, the Soviet Union was strong, the American military was demoralized, and Vietnam was a fresh memory. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage in Iran, taxes were high, drug abuse abounded, record homicides and public confidence was the lowest ever recorded (Pew).

Along came Ronald Reagan, confident in America’s future, resolved to create growth, bring the Soviets to an end, revitalize the military, put Vietnam behind us, bring our hostages home, deeply cut taxes, and restore public health, safety, and confidence.

Democrats, starting with incumbent Jimmy Carter – good man, poor leader – and his Democrat rival Ted Kennedy, would have none of it. They said Reagan was a danger, sure to cause World War III, could not get hostages back, and did not understand what insiders did.

The American people took stock of all this, as we do. They knew Reagan was a former governor, B-movie actor, conservative. But Carter was a flop. They liked Reagan’s authenticity, positive outlook, and optimism.

In 1980, Reagan carried 44 states (58.8 percent of the vote) to Carter’s six and DC (41 percent). By the Inauguration, January 20, 1981, the nation was curious about what Reagan would say.

His speech, in the midst of all this darkness, was light–informed, realistic, and forward-looking, said our greatest days lay “ahead of us,” and why. He took inspiration from the past, was inclusive, and earnest, and called for “a new beginning.”

Here is the spoiler, “bottom line up front,” last chapter first: This man, resolute, undeterrable, humorous, unbending, simple faith, strong heart, trust in destiny, and honorable, tapped into our “better angels,” and delivered.

In his first term, he reversed record stagflation, cut income taxes by 25 percent, created 18 million jobs, honored Vietnam, rebuilt the military, and restored public health, safety, and confidence.

He broke wage inflation by breaking an illegal strike. They broke the law, gone. Smooth as silk, brought in the National Guard, trained new air traffic controllers, and kept his word.

That act of resolve terrified the Soviet Politburo, still oppressing 300 million people in Russia and Eastern Europe. Reagan did what he said. He said they were “destined for the ash heap of history.” Iran sent all 52 hostages home at noon on January 20, immediately after Reagan was inaugurated. He had said, I am coming to get them.

So powerful is faith, resolve, and goodness in unison that Reagan realigned the nation, won 49 states in 1984, brought the Soviets to their knees, ended the “evil empire,” freed 300 million from communism, did what others said could not be done.

But the key, the real key, was that Reagan trusted the American people, and knew if he could just unlock their genius, faith, resolve, and goodness, all would change. He did. It did. Here is the end of the speech that started it all:

“And then beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial… Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

“Beyond those … monuments to heroism, is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

“Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.”

As this good man, destined to be a great president, spoke, his voice cracked…

“Under one such a marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the Western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy fire. We’re told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words:

‘America must win this war. Therefore, I will work; I will save; I will sacrifice; I will endure; I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.’

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

We are again in crisis. If there is such as destiny, Reagan personified that. He withstood mocking and assassination with honor. He speaks to us. To get our country back on track, we must “fight cheerfully to do our utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on us alone.” He told us, in so many words, today as then, it does. We can. We must.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Max
Max
29 days ago

RBC, thank you for another wonderful article. Pres. Reagan was definitely a man needed for the time as was Pres. Trump in his time. Before and in between these great men, there has been nothing but turmoil (great and small) from politicians (poli-ticks). It does need to end or the nation will fall. Pres. Washington stated in one of his final addresses to the nation, that if GOD IS TAKEN OUT, the nation would FALL. The nation has followed this road and it is now on the verge of destruction. Will the people wake up? The nation will find out at this next election cycle.

Don
Don
28 days ago

Simply the greatest president of the 20th century!

Moonpup
Moonpup
28 days ago

While today the young people are chanting “Death to America” and the military and/or true patriots are being shamed for caring, this being, if not lead, at least highly encouraged by Biden and his administration, the majority of which are freaks, geeks or “Socialist”. Four more years? Heck, four more months of Biden may put America so far down the tubes that there can be no recovery. His belief that as long as we can print money and give it away to other countries (or pay for college educations by taking money away from those who work for a living), and most damaging, allowing the border to remain open and giving many benefits to illegals – as well as attempting to give them the vote – that are being denied to veterans, will bankrupt all those except for the very rich Dimocrats and their supporters. Of course this leads the “little guy” to have to depend upon the government, Biden’s government, for the ability and permission to live.

anna hubert
anna hubert
28 days ago

Reagan would not survive in today’s climate It shows how low we sank

Howard
Howard
28 days ago

An excellent article, as always, about the greatest president of the 20th century and a truly selfless young man. May our leaders emulate this president and may our young people be inspired by the selfless nature of this young man, rather than by a selfish motive of taking over buildings and destroying lives.

marty
marty
28 days ago

Ronald Wilson Reagan, the best President of the 20 th century followed the worst President of the 20 th Century, Jimmy Carter. Donald J. Trump was the best President of the 21 st Century followed Barak H. Obama, second worst President of the 21 st Century. When Trump beats Dementia Joe on Nov. 5 th, he will have ” Book-ends” of the 2 worst Presidents, Hopefully, ever. Trump cleaned up most of o’Bumbler’s mess, ham-strung by the ‘Deep State” and Fake Impeachments and now a summer of “Law Fare” false cases in crooked Courts ! 11 / 5 is MAGA day

uncleferd
uncleferd
28 days ago

This competent and valuable article correctly illustrates that character, vision, courage and resolve, on the part of a passionate, articulate leader, are the essence of what can awaken and energize those who have been starved of hope for a full presidential term.
A wide cross-section of Americans who still love their country are now waiting to support a leader. The longer they feel defiled by this destructive, corrupt president, administration, and “leadership” culture, the more resolve and momentum they will gain from this filthy, disgusting, governmental perversion that we all have been enduring.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
28 days ago

…and the press came after himmas well!

Howard
Howard
23 days ago

I have said all along. DONALD=RONALD!!! Said and I truly believe it!!!!

Frank D Lovell
Frank D Lovell
25 days ago

A President like that is coming in November, with our help.

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