Hope Was Ronald Reagan's Secret Weapon
By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 11, 2004 Even in the post-Sept. 11 era, in which the possibility of a spontaneous act of terrorism is never far from our thoughts, it is hard for anyone who had not lived through the height of the Cold War to imagine what a strain communism and the specter of mutually assured destruction added to daily life.
Even more than the idea of a breakdown in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union that could lead to a first strike, and thus nuclear annihilation, was the complete lack of hope that the situation would ever be different. I clearly remember the certainty with which I believed I would not live to see the day when communism collapsed or the Soviet Union did not exist, and neither would my children. It was the primary reason I became involved in politics, and thought the work the most important one could do.
Fortunately for the nation and the world, Ronald Reagan had the vision to see what few, if any, others could discern: the total bankruptcy of the communist system, how close it actually was to collapsing, and what was required to push it over the edge. In achieving his goal of relegating communism to "the ash heap of history," Ronald Reagan not only removed the specter of the unthinkable from our lives and our futures, but gave us a gift of inestimable value: the gift of hope.
Hope was Ronald Reagan's secret weapon. He gave it to the young and the old, to the worn-out and the weary, to the disenfranchised and the disillusioned. He gave it to the people of our country and of every country, to leaders and little people and everyone in between. And by restoring the hope of all Americans, he restored the greatness of America, because hope is the foundation of freedom.
On June 5, 2004, a great and gallant leader passed from our midst, and the whole world is diminished by his loss. At annual gatherings of Reagan staff, the president used to remind us that we came to Washington not to have a job, but to do a job. Each of us tried to live up to the confidence he placed in us, and to the responsibility he laid on our shoulders. One thing is for certain: he lived up to his. As he said in his farewell address to the nation, "We weren't just marking time. We made a difference."
An old hymn based on a passage from the Apostle Paul has a stanza that reads:
"We have run the race, We have won the fight, We have stood against the darkness of the night, We have won the race And seen God's face, And built a kingdom of love."
Ronald Reagan stood against the darkness of communism. He won the fight for freedom and brought down what he rightly termed the "Evil Empire." He won the race and, by now, has met God face to face. As for a kingdom of love, well, we've seen a glimpse of that this week from coast to coast. May he rest in peace.
(Terri Lukach is speechwriter for the secretary of defense and a former staff assistant to President Reagan for public liaison.)