By Randy Snyder
In my last article I read and journalized on Colin Powell and the earmarks of his career and his path that lead him to a indomitable legendary career serving our country. The late and great Ronald Reagan participated successfully and even unsuccessfully in many different capacities, integrative stepping stones on his pathway to greatness as our nation’s 40th President often referred to as one of our greatest and the endearing sub title of “The Great Communicator.” The stepping stones follow:
“Dutch” was the nickname his alcoholic father gave him during his difficult childhood, despite these difficult years living in poverty he was described as a positive and optimistic child, self described as the happiest period of his life!
College and post college years
He entered Eureka College in Illinois. Played Gridiron football, a popular student was elected as senior class President
After graduation he applied for a job as a radio broadcaster in Davenport, Iowa.
He was known to have an indelible memory and he got a job in a larger reach station in Des Moines, Iowa by reciting a Eureka college game from memory, play by play easily landing him the job!
“Dutch Reagan” became the voice of Chicago Cub’s baseball, recognized as a marvelous orator and a” Great Communicator!”
Acting and Movie career
A fortuitous trip to California for Cubs Spring training, was to “Try his hand” at acting
The result was a successful screen test with Warner Brothers ultimately cast in a series of “B Movies”, typecast as sincere, wholesome, engaging and a “good guy!”
He appeared in over fifty movies (Knute Rockne – All American his most memorable) and in a 1938 film he became engaged to his co star, Jane Wyman and they married two years later followed by the birth of a daughter and the adoption of a son, but the marriage ended in a divorce two years later.
The questionable earmark was he was that he was the only President with a marriage that ended in divorce!
Reagan was elected President of the Screen Actors Guild allegedly fighting against communist infiltration of the guild even crossing picket lines to break up violent protests!
Reagan received a commission as a Calvary officer at the World War II outbreak and spent his military time in a film unit making training films never leaving the country or seeing combat despite a lot of fictional doggerel making him a hero in World War II!
Spokesman and narrator of the General Electric Theatre series became his undertaking after the war and he visited GE plants nationwide.
His outlook and beliefs evidenced in his speeches were too controversial and GE fired him!
Reagan’s political career
Reagan met Nancy Davis in 1949. Married her in 1952 and his political views as a democrat were greatly influenced by her conservative views!
After changing to the Republican political party, he campaigned tor Nixon on his run for California Governor and Goldwater during his run for President in 1964.
Nixon’s candidacy failed in 1962, Brown the winner won and ran for reelection in 1966 and Reagan challenged him and was ridiculed as an inexperienced, unqualified actor. Reagan self portrayed as an ordinary fed up citizen with inefficient fed up and unaccountable government, and was viewed as a genuine, likeable citizen won easily by almost one million votes!
He went on to serve two prolific terms from 1967 to 1975 and was viewed favorably by the citizens of California and became noteworthy throughout the country as a marvelous leader, politician and governor of the largest state in the country.
His anxieties for Presidency resulted in a halfhearted bid for the Presidency in 1968 finishing third. The winner Nixon never completed his second term shamefully resigning in 1974 and was superseded by his VP. Gerald Ford.
Regan and Jimmy Carter both challenged Ford for his reelection bid in 1976 and, alas, Jimmy carter won!
History was not kind to Jimmy Carter and Reagan ran against him winning 489 electoral votes to 49!
His victory in the 1984 election was even more impressive defeating the challenger Mondale with 525 electoral votes to 13.
The “Great Communicator” became recognized as one of our Greatest Presidents!
It is almost ironic that the man with an indelible memory suffered from dementia and eventually Alzheimer’s succumbing to complications at the age of 93 on June 5th 2004.
In conclusion, Ronald Reagan’s path and the events therein were often marked with setbacks as well as successes! Moreover as evidenced throughout the article his character ultimately was formulated by his experiences leading to the 40th President of the United States. I underlined and applied Italic font to all of the significant events and character quirks that were part of his persona and success applied for your clarification.