One year ago, President Reagan left this nation a distinguished president and a prominent statesman. As I marked the anniversary with some discussion with my peers, I was met with the same ignorance from them that I met last year, apathy.
Like most of them, I was born in 1984, too young to remember Ronald Reagan as the President of the United States. I only ever heard about him through some one else. After the death of President Reagan last year, I took what I knew about him through all secondary sources and began to research on my own. I have concluded that Reagan has had just as much an impact on me as anyone else.
Also, in contrast to what I was told before, I am sad to say that some college professors don’t do a good job at painting a complete or even accurate picture of Reagan’s legacy. Instead, they cite only the most selective of the shortcomings of his presidency. What’s even more pathetic is that students like me could leave this class believing 100% of what this professor says simply because she’s got the doctorate and we’re just students. What a mistake. Now if that’s not campus bias, then I don’t know what is.
Firstly, Regan’s legacy educates youth in a way that academia never will. By championing democracy during the end of the Cold War, Reagan showed youth that freedom is not just a liberty, but one that should be treated as a treasure as the East Berliners did upon the fall of the Wall. Young Americans, current and future, who don’t remember the Cold War and only get it through history classes are simply not going to get that strong appreciation for freedom and what it means unless they look to Ronald Reagan.
Secondly, Reagan inspired youth. Going out into the working world is tough for the average college student. Graduation speakers often ideally say, “go pursue your dreams…” but there is a part to that statement which I hear from campus alumni, “…and have them shattered by applications.” In truth, the real world is tough, but when I think of economic prosperity (aka getting rich and being happy), I think about the American dream, and the “shining city on a hill.” It surprised many older people when I told them that this speech had a special meaning to me. It’s my inspiration. Reagan set a bar and I’m going to reach for it! You don’t get this inspiration from the classroom.
Finally, the fact that the Soviet Union was defeated without military combat with the Americans is proof that the future is good for the free market, democracy out there. While college students are being converted into anti-war protesters without rationale, I can point out a time when America’s greatest enemy was defeated without an actual battle. The defeat of the Soviet Union by political pressure and not combat should give these sometimes thoughtless protesters a reason to thank Reagan. Anyone, regardless of their position on Iraq should be thankful for that yet many of them don’t budge.
What can I say? My generation needs a little work. Luckily, there is Young America’s Foundation, which sponsors campus speakers who knew Reagan first hand and would be a better source of information than the classroom. Over the course of the year, I have come to terms with the truth that Reagan’s achievements have touched even today’s youth. So I will be remembering this week, the great communicator whose talents reached every generation, including mine.
Tony Maalouf is a riding senior at West Chester University.