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Monday, June 07, 2004

Ronald Reagan

I was having a very laid back weekend, so I did not hear that this great man had passed away until late on Sunday.

It is probably impossible to overstate the importance of the President Reagan's acheivements. Some people and events are so fundamental to the course of human history and our common experience that, if they did not exist, there could be no simple replacement. Reagan was one such person. And more than that, he was a force for good throughout the world. Not untarnished, for he was only human, but he looked the USSR in the eye and spoke the truth, called it evil; and he looked at the west, at our democratic heritage, and spoke the truth when he called it good. He was not afraid to view the world in moral terms, and having determined the absolute evil of communism he worked to unseat it.

While we remember with gratitude the life of this extra-ordinary man, it is worthwhile to reflect that he is but that first of the great individuals of the 1980s that so defined the modern world, and to whom we should all be so grateful.

Margaret Thatcher, of course, was his counter-point in the UK. Karol Wotjyla, otherwise known as His Holiness Pope John Paul II; and of course, Mikhail Gorbachov. Four people who between them shaped and defined the world in which we live. Four people who are responsible for the end of Communism. Four people without whom the world would have been utterly different.

None of the remaining three are young anymore. This generations is slowly passing. This weekend we have mostly been reflecting on an even older generation, one starting to slip from sight, as we give what will probably be the final large public commemoration of their sacrifice. But the leaders are long gone. In that perhaps Ronald Reagan might best be compared to Winston Churchill than FDR.

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