It was vintage Ronald Reagan, whose humility and kindness never ceased to amaze me. I saw it when the president went out of his way to greet the kitchen and hotel staff whenever he gave a speech. No matter how his staff and the Secret Service might be trying to hurry him along, the president would always take time to greet the service workers. This was no mere political act, since most of these people probably hadn't voted for him, and many weren't likely even U.S. citizens. He did it because he had a sense of duty to the public.
He always seemed to understand that he was only a temporary custodian of the highest office in the land, and his own reverence and respect for that office guided his every action. It was the reason he never took his jacket off in the Oval Office. And the president's attitude was infectious. Everyone who worked in the Reagan White House came to work in their Sunday best.
The world will remember President Reagan for having helped defeat communism and for restoring America's faith in itself and its leaders. But I will remember him as the kind and generous soul who never forgot the little people, even when he was the most powerful man in the world.
"Humility," wrote the American philosopher Henry Thoreau, "like darkness reveals the heavenly lights." President Ronald Reagan's great modesty and unassuming nature made him the brightest star among the luminaries of our time.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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