Ronald Reagan's Love of Freedom - On His Birthday

Posted on Monday, February 8, 2021
by AMAC, Robert B. Charles

Ronald Reagan – on what would be his 110th birthday – remains a timeless beacon, words and life, confidence, spirit, and inspiration.

He is a beacon not just for Republicans, or even Americans, but for all peoples – free and unfree – in all times.  Why?  Because he was long seeing, grounded in faith, history, and lived life showing adversity can be overcome, evil defeated by unremitting belief in the good, and freedom is worth dying for.  Alloyed with courage, it is unstoppable.  That is why.

At age 21, by a stroke luck, a kid from Maine worked in his White House, heard him speak, watched him convert audiences with his heart.  Reagan was earnest, instinctively humble, innately humorous, and his “aw shucks” nature sprang from the depths.  Approaching a group, he believed they were already with him, or by the time he was done they would be, and they always were.

What people forget is that Reagan was born with no silver spoon.  Son of an alcoholic father, raised on little but his mother’s faith and appreciation for hard work, he set sights on college – when seven percent of Americans went to college.  Hard worker, he played football, majored in economics, and by odd chance – had an English teacher who taught drama.  She left an imprint.

Cast as a beleaguered, principled, and alcoholic Captain Stanhope in the WWI epic “Journey’s End,” Reagan discovered he could act.  He brought hope in darkness. He was “astonished by the magic of an ordinary man convincing an audience” to understand, hope, and believe.  His words.

While at college, the Depression hit – 1929.  By 1933, unemployment hit 25 percent – structural, collapsed economy, homeless everywhere, not from self-inflicted lockdowns, no flying stock market.  Reagan’s prospects were dark, and yet – with inexplicable faith, his Midwestern hope was unbroken.

Losing his first job, he pivoted to broadcasting the Chicago Cubs – a sure sign of unflagging hope!  From there, Reagan let himself dream – of Hollywood.  A friend pushed him to knock on a Studio door, put away his thick glasses.  The Hand of Destiny, in the form of Warner Brothers, saw him as the next “Robert Taylor.”  Faith and persistence.  “Knock and it shall be answered.”

In films, including “Knute Rockne – All American” and “King’s Row,” Reagan was typecast the “good guy, winning against odds.”  He played himself.  With money earned, he moved his parents to California.

Pursuing goodness, Reagan hoped on the New Deal.  When WWII broke out, he signed up.  Destined for the Pacific, his bad eyes – and military fears of film actors KIA – kept him in the US.  Time, experience, focus on communism, concentrated power, suppression of core freedoms, caught Reagan’s attention.  Post-war, he dropped the Democrats, and became an anti-Soviet Republican.

Destiny, like a guardian angel, followed Reagan.  His depth, patriotism, heart-on-sleeve, concern for everyman’s liberty, worries about the Soviet Union, and gift for language lifted him, and those to whom he spoke.  At the Screen Actors Guild, 1964 Convention, in a 1965 book called “Where’s the Rest of Me?” (opposing “big government”), as governor, and even after losing the Republican nomination in 1976, Reagan was the happy warrior, hopeful, principled, a believer, optimist.  Famously, a book in the 1970s argued “Reagan would have made a great president.”  Indeed, and he did.

When elected president in 1980, Reagan did not change – one iota.  He was, as he had been, a believer.  Now, he could limit government, and face down evil.  Confronted with double-digit unemployment and inflation, Reagan believed tax cuts and the American People would turn things around.  They did.

Told by elites the Soviet Union was here to stay and should be accommodated, Reagan kept the horizon.  To him, it was an “evil empire,” must end “on the dust heap of history,” had no legitimacy.  Communist governments oppressed people, stripped them of their dignity, liberty, and life.  Lest we forget, Reagan speaking like that was called outlandish, reckless, provocative.  But he was undeterred.  He spoke truth – and most knew it, even then.  See,

In time, he would educate Americans about what freedom, success, liberty, and loss are all about, where in the heart sacrifice comes from, what it is made of, and what it requires from those to whom it is given.  He would do that in places like Normandy – standing over a windswept beach that claimed 6,000 young lives in June 1944.  See,

He would do that at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, telling a Soviet leader the “Wall” separating free from captive must come down.  See,  He would do so for a grieving nation, in the awful aftermath of the Challenger tragedy, reminding us the price of greatness is the courage to die for it, the crew “had slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”  Reagan seldom cried.  Speaking at Normandy and honoring Challenger’s crew, his voice barely held.  He cared, deeply.  See,;

So, on his birthday, we should have refreshed hope – in what is timeless, good, and inspires.  Thirty-nine years on, I look back on time in the Reagan White House with comfort, gratitude, and something we all share, recognition that – even in times of darkness – good perseveres and can win.  His farewell address put his faith and gratitude in perspective.  See,

The last time I spoke with President Reagan was in 1990, now 30 years ago.  He was filled with mirth, good humor, hallmark humility, gratitude for each day.  He was crisp, joking easily about his friend Margaret Thatcher, told stories of his youth as a lifeguard, somehow never pausing to accept personal credit for the Soviet Union’s fall, rather crediting destiny.  Even then, faith, hope, and optimism held.

In the end, hope shines – like Reagan’s example – on knowledge that America has enjoyed such leaders, willing to speak truth without guile, love and understand freedom, honor those who die for it, and inspire those who, in time, will stand, speak, and fight for it again.  This clip captures it all:  May we never forget people like Reagan, and their undying faith in the power of goodness.  They lived the faith, brought evil down with it, and – when we pause – lift us still with it.  May we never forget.