Thoughts On a Bittersweet Week

by Michael Potemra

The death of Ronald Reagan last Saturday really brought me up short. I had been expecting it for a long time, as had we all; so I was surprised at the mix of emotions it called forth in me, and even more surprised by the amazing national outpouring of grief and affection over the past five days. It was my honor to work on President Reagan’s White House staff in his second term. (He was, at heart, a shy and private man, who warmed up to you once he saw you laugh at one of his jokes; his basic attitude must have been, if you have a sense of humor you must be OK.) When his term ended, I saw a public consensus forming that he was an amiable but not quite substantive person, destined to be loved by conservatives but viewed with skepticism—albeit an affectionate skepticism—by everyone else. My own number one issue back then was anti-Communism, and I saw the remarkable changes going on the USSR, and I thought, “Nobody is going to give President Reagan credit for this any time soon. But 25 years from now, some revisionist historians will break the ice and say, yes, he does deserve the credit. And maybe—just maybe—some 50 years after that, the average educated American will see the truth of that assessment.” But here we are: Just 16 years after Reagan left office, the vast majority of our countrymen see Reagan in his true dimensions. This is a vindication, and it prompts a number of thoughts: 1) People, in general, are wiser than I (and many others) sometimes think they are. 2) The media arre not as powerful and I (and many others) sometimes think they are. 3) Ronald Reagan was a great, great, great man, and something like that cannot be kept a secret for very long. I thank him for what he did for me personally, for our country, and for the whole world. He did it all because he believed in a good and merciful Providence, into Whose hands we now commit his eternal soul. R. I. P.

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