Foto AP

Missing the Gipper: Reagan Foundation’s Moving Commemoration on the 20th Anniversary of His Death

On Wednesday, I visited the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, where the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute commemorated the late president’s 20th anniversary during an event celebrating “His Enduring Legacy & Impact.” 

“We feel it is important to gather, reflect on our 40th President’s impact, and then look forward to what our future holds,” they wrote.

On Thursday, meanwhile, the foundation will mark another iconic anniversary in our nation’s history: D-Day.

“…the country and the world will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, an occasion marked brilliantly by President Reagan 40 years ago on that day in 1984 when he delivered one of his most famous speeches highlighting the selfless and heroic actions of the ‘boys of Pointe du Hoc.’

I hadn’t previously had the honor of visiting the library, and it was a profound experience. The Gipper was a conservative hero who turned this nation around after the strife of the ’60s and the malaise of the ‘70s. He brought the Soviet Union to its knees, avoided a world war, and rejuvenated our economy, among his many other accomplishments.

The entrance was A+:

RedState Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar previously wrote a moving tribute to the man in advance of the commemoration:

An Inspiration to So Many:

20 Years After His Death, Ronald Reagan Is Still Appealing to Our Best Hopes

On a personal note, he was key to my own political identity: I grew up in a liberal environment where Reagan was thought of as a sinister and perhaps evil force. I kept thinking, what am I missing—I like the guy (and what he stands for). Eventually, I realized it wasn’t me who was unable to comprehend; it was them, and it was thus that Reagan inspired yet one more person to become a conservative.

The afternoon began with rousing live music from the 40th Infantry Division Band, California Army National Guard:

Then came the bagpipes and the wreath-laying ceremony. Something about bagpipes always heightens the emotions:

After the ceremonies, the first panel, “LEADERSHIP AT HOME: MORNING IN AMERICA,” began. My favorite lines (paraphrased): Stephen Moore, former director of President Reagan’s privatization commission, remembered when “Reagan said, “I was not a great communicator—but I communicated great things.”

“He woke up optimistic every single day,” added former deputy assistant to the president Andrew Card. 

The next panel, “LEADERSHIP ABROAD: PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH,” was moderated by Townhall Media’s own Guy Benson, and he got the crowd laughing right away by saying he was a Reagan Baby—meaning he was born during the Gipper’s second term.

Pretty sure there weren’t many other people at the event who could make that same claim. 

Former Deputy National Security Director K.T. McFarland pointed out that when Reagan spoke of peace through strength, he didn’t just mean military strength—he also meant economic strength. It was the strength of our economy that he used to ultimately topple the Soviets. 

Most of the day’s panelists did not talk much about the current presidential race, but inexplicably, former Reagan director for arms control Ken Adelman did and went on a rant about how if the Gipper were alive today, he would never vote for Trump. 

Who would he vote for—Biden?! I’d find that hard to believe.

The crowd wasn’t having it, and the boobirds started out quietly but quickly grew in force. Adelman circled back to the point later in the talk but was booed even louder. You can see his first comments and the reactions starting at the 2:45 mark in the official video of the event.

The man who started the booing was seated right behind me, and after shaking his hand, I asked him why he did it. In sum, he said we weren’t there to talk about Trump (or even Biden); we were there to celebrate the Gipper. Many in the crowd seemed to agree. 

I spoke to a man afterward who had visited the library many times before, and he said he’d never seen anything like it. 

Watch the two discussion panels here:

Another highlight came later in the evening, when Carol Thatcher, author and daughter of former British PM Margaret Thatcher, and producer and writer Ben Mulroney, son of the former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, reminisced about their famous parents’ relationship with our former president. 

They talked about the great friendships that sprung up between the three transformational leaders and how they stood up for each other and supported each other even when they did not agree on policy. 

Mulroney reminisced about how as a kid he once turned a corner in an official area of an airport and was suddenly faced by a “towering” fellow with a glint in his eye who seemed to him like a California Redwood. He remembered that Reagan’s magnetism was immediately apparent.

Carol Thatcher colorfully recalled the time her mother stepped up forcefully for the Gipper in a time of need (remarks start at about the 1:18 mark in the video, linked below):

In 1987, my mother came to the White House just before the end of Ronald Reagan’s term, and she was invited—the Reagan administration was having a pretty bumpy time. They were being criticized over a lot of issues, and Mum went on a prime time TV show, and was being told it was all a bit negative and so, she said. STOP IT! STOP! 

This is a great country, president, and great future, and the television exchange at the British Embassy lit up. “Hey, you’re right!”

Reagan called her afterward to thank her for her support during such a key time.

The Trio’s friendship had a long history:

Mulroney, who served as Canada’s 18th prime minister from 1984 to 1993, befriended Reagan in 1985.

The man known for his charm and Irish blarney — a gift for the gab — was an ardent advocate of stronger U.S.-Canadian relations. He pushed a free trade deal forward in no small part due to his chumminess with U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Few Canadians around during his reign have forgotten the widely broadcast Mulroney-Reagan duet of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the Shamrock summit in Quebec City in 1985, named after the pair’s Irish heritage and the fact that their meeting fell on St. Patrick’s Day. The 24-hour meeting opened the door to future free trade talks between the countries.


The Gipper and former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—the “Iron Lady”—who served from 1979 to 1990, were also extremely friendly, partly because they both held strong views on the economy and the threat of communism:

In spite of their different approaches to politics, they formed a close bond that allowed them to strengthen the Anglo-American alliance at a time when the international order was undergoing profound change with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany.

“President Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher were political and philosophical soul mates,” said Ambassador Lawrence P. Taylor, who served as economic counselor in London from 1985-1989.

It was a moving day, and I feel fortunate that I got to be a part of it in person. Reagan was a national treasure, and if this country is going to bounce back from the many problems we’re facing, we’re going to need a commander-in-chief like him—and world leaders with strong backbones like Mulroney and Thatcher to fight our way back to greatness.

And now for just a little bit of levity:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hillary Clinton Makes Disgusting and Vile D-Day Post

Nolte: Week After Phony Felony Convictions, Trump Still Leads Biden