June 7, 2004
By Becky Norton Dunlop
It was a glorious ceremony, an inspiring speech, a happy day for
us Reaganauts - and a turning point for the world.
I first met Reagan in 1974. I was a young staff member at the
first Conservative Political Action Conference. He was the keynote
speaker and honored guest.
He was already a beacon for many conservatives. He communicated
our ideas with clarity, conviction and good humor. His affection
and respect for Vietnam veterans and POWs - in an era when other
leaders were disparaging them - also helped him stand out.
This was a leader to believe in. I worked on his 1976
presidential campaign - and again in 1980.
When he won, he brought his ideas - and his idealists - to
Washington with him. I had the privilege of joining the White House
staff, eventually as director of the Cabinet Office, a post that
gave me a seat in the corner of the Cabinet Room.
There, I was able to observe President Reagan in action,
exploring policy options with his Cabinet and agency heads.
One of his endearing and inspiring traits was to make eye
contact with "supporting cast" staffers at Cabinet meetings, giving
them a wink or a nod while issues of great significance were being
decided. It was the president's way of letting them know they were
full members of his team.
Being responsible for preparing the president's Cabinet briefing
books, I often formed my own views of an issue before the formal
discussion began. Sometimes I'd find my head nodding in agreement
with a speaker or shaking "discreetly" from side to side when
The president would often give me a knowing look and wink as
though to say: I get your message.
In these tiny, affirming, human ways, President Reagan inspired
countless individuals whose paths crossed his. Yet he also moved
and motivated countless others - from the four corners of the world
- who never met the man at all.
Over the years, scores of leaders and intellectuals from around
the world - Poland, Ghana, Spain, Italy, Japan and more - have told
me how President Reagan and his message of hope, economic growth
and liberty inspired them to bring change to their own countries.
His global legacy, in other words, isn't "just" winning the Cold
Ronald Reagan's principled vision to advance liberty for all, to
end the march of Communism, to free America's economy to produce
wealth and jobs for all - and his unwavering faith in God and the
innate decency and judgment of the American people - truly changed
the nation and the world for the better.
When he came face to face with his Creator, I have no doubt the
words he heard were, "Well done, thou good and faithful
We'll miss you, President Reagan.
Becky Norton Dunlop is now vice president of external
relations for The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in the New York Post
A Leader to Believe In
Becky Norton Dunlop
Vice President, External Relations
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