Monday, November 3, 2008

a president by any other name

* This is from something I wrote this a little over four years ago, after President Ronald Reagan died, and a few months before the 2004 election. It seemed appropriate to post it today. If you haven't already (and of course you have, right?) do your homework tonight, and tomorrow - Go Vote!
In 1980 I was five years old. That fall I started kindergarten. Ronald Reagan was elected president. Along the main hallway of my elementary school there is a line of presidential portraits. On my first day of school, there was Jimmy Carter, situated at the end of the celebrated line. We would walk past him on the way to the library.

A few months into the school year the picture at the end of the line was different. I remember feeling satisfied that President Reagan had decided to grace the wall of our school. I felt I liked him better than Carter. But what did I know? I was five. I knew that there was a President of the United States, but I didn’t really know who he was, until it was Ronald Reagan.

Election night 1984, now nine years old, I have a distinct memory of sitting alone on the couch in the living room. The T.V. was turned to the election coverage. My parents were out, my brother and sisters asleep. But I was there, fascinated as I watched the states slowly turning red across the U.S. map. In the end, way past my bedtime, there were 49 red states, and one blue.

Victory. I was interested in politics.

Ronald Reagan died last Saturday. Several memorials are going on throughout the country this week. Friday is a National Day of Mourning and the Congressional Republican Leadership have suspended their regular business in order to spent the rest of the week eulogizing the man who, according to the experts on the radio, revitalized the Republican party and changed the face of American politics. I heard that yesterday no Democrats had participated. How partisan of them. I did wonder at taking the entire week off.

I am an independent, no capitals. I get a kick out of the signs around my town encouraging citizens to “vote the person, not the party.” Which I agree with, except that the party has something to do with things.

I am still thinking over my presidential vote. It's something certainly worth thinking over. But however things go, and however I vote in this upcoming election, I have to thank Mr. Reagan. He sparked my interest. I haven’t been as involved as maybe I should be, but I have been involved and I am interested.

Goodnight, Ronald. It’s been good knowing you.

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