Monday, March 7, 2016

Op-ed: Together with 'Ronnie' Forever

Together with 'Ronnie' Forever
By: Diane Sori / The Patriot Factor / Right Side Patriots on

"My life began with Ronnie."
- Former First Lady Nancy Reagan's words to Vanity Fair magazine in 1998

Yesterday I cried upon hearing that a great lady had passed...a lady of beauty, grace, and former First Lady Nancy Reagan now and forever is with her...and our...beloved 'Ronnie.'

The 94-year old former actress and devoted wife of Ronald Reagan died early Sunday morning of congestive heart failure at her home in Bel Aire, California, surrounded by family, after being in failing health for some years. But if truth be told Nancy Reagan's heart died the day her 'Ronnie' passed.

Deeply and unabashedly in love with her husband, that love for each other was obvious for all to see as they rarely appeared in public without holding hands...and America reveled in that love for no matter how old they became that spark of love and affection for each other was their and our undeniable truth...a truth so missing from today's first couple. And as our First Lady from 1981 to 1989, Nancy Reagan graced the 'People's House' with a sense of class, honor, and a deep love of country...again something sorely missing today.

"I must say acting was good training for the political life which lay ahead for us," Nancy Reagan once said adding that "the movies were custard compared to politics." 

Yet it was politics that allowed Nancy Reagan to leave a legacy of compassion and caring. When Ronald Reagan was governor of California (1967-1975), Nancy took a deep and heart-felt interest in the welfare of Vietnam veterans, routinely visiting the war's wounded, and was active in many projects relating to America's POWs. She also helped sponsor Foster Grandparent, a program that pairs senior citizens with handicapped children, and when First Lady she helped take Foster Grandparent national.

Nancy Reagan got further involved in politics when she helped hire and fire the political consultants who ran her husband’s failed 1976 Republican presidential bid, and then his successful campaign for the presidency in 1980. And Nancy Reagan also played a pivotal role in the 1987 ouster of then White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, whom she personally blamed for "ineptness" after it was disclosed that her husband had secretly approved arms sales to Iran, in what came to be known as the Iran/Contra arms deal, along with her getting Reagan to apologize to the nation for said deal.

And it was Nancy Reagan who was the first to understand the importance of working to thaw Soviet/American relations, and who urged her husband to open up a dialogue with the Soviet leadership...a dialogue which eventually led not only to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall but which also led to the collapse of the old Soviet Union, but left intact the warm relationship Reagan had with Mikhail Gorbachev.

But what Nancy Reagan is most remembered for is her 'Just Say No' campaign to combat drug abuse started during her White House years. In fact, in 1985, Nancy Reagan hosted an international conference at the White House focusing on drug prevention among youth, which was attended by the first ladies of 17 countries. And after leaving the White House, Nancy Reagan became a strong advocate for stem cell research, continued to work hard to promote better treatment for America's veterans, as well as going public with her successful battle against breast cancer which helped to raise public awareness of the disease.
“He was all I had ever wanted in a man, and more,” wrote Nancy Reagan in her book 'My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan.'

But above all, Nancy Reagan was a devoted, loving, and passionate wife...a wife who became fiercely protective of her husband after the 1981 attempt on his life...and a wife who was part of Ronald Reagan's very essence as she helped to shape the man who would become one of America's greatest presidents. And that love never shone brighter then on the day that Ronald Reagan became our 40th president as he placed his hand on the holy Bible to take the oath of office, the look on Nancy Reagan face was a look deeper than mere was a look of adoration, pride, and above all else respect for the man who would now became steward of America's ship.

And when Reagan's two-terms as president were I wish he were president today...they returned to California where Nancy Reagan continued her anti-drug campaign by forming the Nancy Reagan Foundation to support educational and drug-prevention after-school programs. And when in 1994, our beloved president announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Nancy and Ronald together formed the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute in Chicago, an affiliate of the Alzheimer's Association to help find a cure...a cure that included her (rightfully) advocating for stem cell research believed by many to hold the key to curing Alzheimer's...bucking the then Republican mantra against said research. (This 2001 photo is one of the last photos ever released to the public of Nancy and Ronnie together.)

And with this disease leaving Nancy Reagan a decade to lovingly care for her beloved 'Ronnie' her the time needed to say her own personal “long goodbye” with “hours spent with old love letters...” after Reagan's death on June 5, 2004, Nancy tirelessly worked on projects related to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and promoted her husband's legacy of leadership and freedom. And Frederick J. Ryan Jr., Chief Executive and Chairman of the Board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation said, “She set the standard that first ladies will aspire to for many years to come”...and some have and others sadly haven't.

"Thank God we found each other...Can't imagine life without him,"
Nancy Reagan said in another 1998 interview. And now and forever more they are home with God never to be separated again.

And so the tributes are starting to come are but a few...with former First Lady Barbara Bush saying, “Nancy Reagan was totally devoted to President Reagan, and we take comfort that they will be reunited once more...George and I send our prayers and condolences to her family.” In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote that, "Ronald Reagan could not have accomplished everything that he did without his wife Nancy." And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I remember Nancy as a noble woman who supported President Reagan and stood by his side. She will be remembered as a great friend of the State of Israel.”

And presidential candidate Marco Rubio spoke that, “Today our nation mourns the loss of Nancy Reagan, a true example of integrity and grace. My prayers are with the entire Reagan family,” with fellow candidate Ted Cruz saying that, “Nancy Reagan will be remembered for her deep passion for this nation and love for her husband, Ronald. The Reagan family is in our prayers.”

But Nancy's stepson, Michael, said it best in a simple tweet, "Nancy is where she has always wanted to be...with her Ronnie...Now she is at peace..." And to that affect Nancy Reagan will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband...together for all eternity...never to be apart again.

And for me, I will never forget Nancy Reagan, dressed in a white pants suit looking ever so frail as she sat in a wheelchair at the 10-year anniversary of her husband's death, and when asked about this day remarked that, “It is really hard for me to believe that Ronnie has been gone for 10 years. I still feel his presence every day and often find him in my dreams at night"...and I will say in tribute to Nancy that Ronald Reagan's presence continues to loom large even today for all of us who value freedom and honor, and while we mourn Nancy's passing we know that now they are together as their love story continues on forever and a day.

Rest in Everlasting Peace beautiful're with 'Ronnie' again.
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