June 15, 2004
It might be hard to believe coming from the "Chief of Staff" of The Heritage Foundation, but politics hasn't always been of real interest to me. Leadership and courage, now those are interesting. I guess that's why Ronald Reagan caught my eye when I was only 10 years old.
When Ronald Reagan was elected president, politics wasn't even in my vocabulary. My vocabulary was made up of anything to do with playing little league baseball, Dodgeball in P.E. and after school with my friends, and riding my BMX bike as far as I could go and still get home in time to meet my curfew, signaled by the streetlights coming on for the night.
I was young. But not too young to know that our country had been given a renewed hope. The love for our country, our flag, our deep roots in faith and freedom, had been renewed and Ronald Reagan was the reason.
Although politics was not of interest to me then, I was aware of what was going on in the world. Before Reagan, I remember being excited when it was an odd numbered day because the license plate on our car ended in an odd number and that meant we could fill up our car with gas on that day. I remember how Americans had been taken hostage and held for ransom on an airport runway and tying a yellow ribbon around the small tree in our front yard. I also remember being in a school play where the sitting president and his brother were the butt of all jokes.
While I wasn't interested in politics, I knew a true leader when I saw one. Sitting on the floor, too close to our big tube T.V., I watched as Ronald Reagan took over as president and knew that he was a true leader - the kind of leader I wanted to be.
It didn't take a political or highly educated family to teach me this. My family was neither. My parents had only high school educations. My father served his country driving a truck in the Air Force in Europe and went on to make a career out of truck driving. My mother worked hard at home caring for my sister and me, and taking up odd jobs that would help us pay our bills but not take away from her time with her children. They worked hard, loved America, and taught me and my sister that we are blessed to be born in a country where we are free to be whatever we want to be and free to worship our Creator. My parents taught me that thanks to the courage of those who have gone before us, we have inherited a legacy worth fighting to preserve.
As I stood today on the top of The Heritage Foundation building in Washington, DC while 21 jets flew over in honor of President Ronald Reagan's body nearing the United States Capitol building, I was reminded of the simple truths that my parents taught me and that Reagan fought to preserve: America is the greatest country that has ever existed; I am blessed to have been born in America; God himself had a hand in making America and making America great; and each of us has a responsibility to preserve the greatness of America for our children and their children.
And finally, what I learned not from being taught but by watching: America is indebted to Ronald Reagan for restoring hope in our country and throughout the world. He did it when he was first elected. He did it throughout his presidency. He even did it as his body "Lay in State" in the U.S. Capitol.
President Reagan, thank you. You continue to renew our hope and turn us to everything that is good about America.
God Bless you Ronald Reagan.
Drew Bond is Chief of Staff at The Heritage Foundation