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The Reagans and Gratitude

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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17 Comments
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She slipped away, to place small American flags before row upon row of white crosses, honoring the fallen of D-Day 1944. Her husband, Ronald Reagan, delivered one of the most compelling speeches of his life, perhaps in the life of the nation. The year was 1984, June 6, 1984.

President Reagan spoke with conviction and purpose. He spoke not to rally others, but to honor those who threw themselves into the teeth of evil, knowing the day might be their last. For 4,400 Allied boys, it was. Each gave all he had that day, and to whom? To those he loved, and to us.

Reagan spoke of honor and courage, duty and devotion to freeing a continent from evil. He spoke of those who died to those who lived; he spoke of memories to those who remembered. I recall it all because, in my youth, his words and convictions were transfixing.

Last week it washed over me again, as if time had played a terrible trick. Here, in a blink, was the 40th anniversary of that 40th anniversary, survivors in wheelchairs, ages 98 to 104, humbling.

Humbling, too, was realizing the speed at which time passes. We are as far from Reagan’s moving speech that day in 1984, as he was then from the event itself, from D-Day.

This is the point. Time passes fast, so permit me a reflection on reflection, sober pause to hear the echo of Reagan four decades after he offered his tribute to freedom, courage, America, and the “Boys of Pointe Du Hoc,” 225 soldiers who scaled those cliffs a 100 feet high at Normandy.

Said Reagan, honoring them and all who fought for liberty that day: “These are the boys of Pointe du hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”  I recall his gravelly voice cracking.    

He and they knew, as we do, what it meant: We must pass forward what it takes for liberty to survive. America Herself is an idea, yes a place on the globe and in history, and in our living, beating hearts, but She is mostly an idea. The idea is only as enduring as our resolve to instill it.

Only if, 40 years from now and 40 from there, Americans understand what D-Day was fought for, the courage it took, the sacrifice engendered, love required, will America – the idea – prevail. Only if those who come after us carry liberty’s torch as high as 80 years ago, is freedom safe.

What am I saying? D-Day was a day of profound importance, like April 19, 1775, when America said “no more” to a tyrannical British Government at Lexington, like the “Band of Brothers” at Bastogne, like brave days when Americans rose to defend liberty in thousands of places.

But we do not breathe forever, not even heroes. If we are grateful, we must teach the courage of Normandy, teach what freedom means – the idea of America, and how to preserve it.

The 40th of the 40th is now behind us. Strange to say it, but true. We live among leaders who test our faith, patience, and democracy’s strength but know who we are, why we are, and what we owe.

Those who came before us taught us well the value of freedom, and that preserving this God-given gift for those we love can mean our life. We must teach that, the burden gratitude imposes.

Gratitude is why she slipped away, to place small American flags before row upon row of white crosses, honoring the fallen. Gratitude is why her husband’s voice cracked, those 40 years ago.

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
9 days ago

RBC, thanks for the reminder of Pres. Reagan’s speech that day. I pulled it out again this past 6 June as I always do. I was in transit from a European post heading for my next assignment in the Far East and had time to be there that day. The early part of June is always special with June 6 (D-DAY) and June 4 (Battle of Midway), where the Axis powers were on their way to defeat. Pres. Reagan is the most memorable Commander-in-Chief that was a privileged to serve under.

Have a great day. Semper Fi.

kit
kit
9 days ago

reagan’s had clsss. biden’s have none

Maga2024
Maga2024
9 days ago

What a great American Patriot, great President, and a great man. We need Trump to win in November and reclaim our country from the corrupt Marxist Democrats

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
9 days ago

A genuinely great, honorable , proper tribute to the Reagans, and all who gave their life and those who put their life on the line to fight for the freedom of not only America, but the world and helped good defeat evil on 6 June 1944. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, although I never met them have always felt like friends in a way, I say that because of their good. character, their sense of purpose , their sincerity – being people that were truly admirable in how they lived life. A couple of sentences in particular in this article are outstanding in the spirit communicated – ” We must pass forward what it takes for Liberty to survive. “. And following the “America herself is an idea ” – ” The idea is only as enduring as our resolve to instill it .”. That I do believe is the soul and spirit of remembrance and the gratitude due to all mentioned in this writing . Well done, Robert This is a right proper tribute , that communicates the honor involved.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
9 days ago

If Biden actually planted any flags on graves, it’d likely be a Palestinian one. Where are the hundreds of arrests for wearing masks covering their faces, assaulting Park Rangers, and vandalizing statues in Lafayette Park in DC?

JPop
JPop
9 days ago

Reagan is one of the best Presidents we’ve ever had.

Ted
Ted
9 days ago

It a shame all the lives lost on that Day inorder to preserve the Freedoms we still have today. I fear with the coming election this countries D-Day is close at hand and, like the lost souls of D-Day, I too will stand and fight for justice.

Howard
Howard
9 days ago

Robert, thank you for a truly inspiring remembrance of the greatest President of the 20th century delivering an incredible tribute to “The Greatest Generation” at the 40th anniversary of D-Day.I noticed you made no mention of the most recent speaker at the 80th anniversary remembrance of D-Day. Thank you! His name does not even deserve a tiny footnote in a very moving tribute to Ronald Reagan.

Pat R
Pat R
9 days ago

Would that the thoughts, feelings, and words written by Mr. Charles as well as the comments were in the hearts and minds of all Americans.

Granny
Granny
4 days ago

A generation which is almost gone and millions don’t even know what they stood for. Our history is being destroyed and untaught by an education system which is also destroyed. God Bless the Reagans and our America which is declining because there have been no true leaders in a very long time until 2016. Prayerfully again in 2024.

Erick
Erick
9 days ago

Profoundly inspiring, Robert, as always. Thank you.

Michael Christopher Johstone CLXVIII
Michael Christopher Johstone CLXVIII
9 days ago

robert charles sucks

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