It is one of those weird occurrences of history that in February, a month when we celebrate Presidents Day, mostly due to the birth dates of Washington and Lincoln, that another great president was also born. Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois, a small town far from any major city.
He was raised in a low income household in small towns in Illinois and graduated from a small college, Eureka, which was the third college in the United States to admit men and women on an equal basis.
He did odd jobs, moved into radio announcing, then acting, then union management and not surprisingly, based on that era and his background, was a Democrat for the first 51 years of his life.
At 69, the oldest to be elected as president, he assumed office. We just elected a man almost a decade older. Biden is a year older going into office than Reagan was when he left. Times do change.
But perhaps his greatest work came in his Republican convention speech in 1964, titled “A Time for Choosing.” Reagan gave conservative thought a voice. In my view prior to that speech conservative thought was the province of intellectuals and the historical voices of Edmund Burke and later Russell Kirk. Now it gained a real spokesman with a handsome face and a polished delivery.
We lost so much with his passing. One of my fondest memories was spending about 90 minutes listening to him speak to a small group of us. This was late in his second term when many thought him failing. I saw no flickering of his light that night, but heard the passion of one who embraced the American ideal and the strength possible through American character.
We need a voice like this now. We need to find ways to expand the conservative tent without a compromise in values. We need renewed faith in the American way and the courage to resist those whose only intent is to dismantle and degrade.
We need a voice like his; one that calls to the best within us, that will rekindle the flame of patriotism, spark the fire of personal responsibility, and be the catalyst for fostering the desire for all our tomorrows to be better than our todays.
We can start by listening to the voices of the angels of our better nature. Each of us, one patriot at a time.
Dr. Ed Moore served for many years as the president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) and has served in both the legislative and executive branches of Florida government. Prior to ICUF, Dr. Moore was staff director for Policy, for Worker’s Compensation, for Medical Liability and for Public Safety and Security in the Florida House of Representatives. Dr. Moore also worked in the private sector for 21 years and has experience in areas ranging from multi-state commercial development and utilities, public safety, mental health, corrections, education at all levels, to higher education. Dr. Moore is a longtime participant and observer of the human condition, especially the political aspects of life. He is perpetually awaiting a rebirth of reality.