Reagan steadfastly refused to bargain away his plans to build an anti-missile defense, despite heavy propaganda from the media plus pressure from the Soviets and even from his own State Department. The big test of Reagan's will came at his meeting with then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Gorbachev made all kinds of concessions in a desperate effort to get Reagan to abandon his anti-missile defense plan. But Reagan never retreated.
We now know Reykjavik was the moment when Gorbachev realized the Soviets could not win against the United States, and the Soviet Empire began to collapse. It was Reagan's fortitude and courage that won the Cold War without firing a shot.
During most of Reagan's life, the media tried to slant public opinion to believe that he was just an actor, a mouthpiece for the ideas of others. We now have proof that Reagan developed his own ideas and wrote most of his own speeches.
A couple of years ago, a researcher at the Reagan Library in California discovered a treasure trove of the texts of hundreds of Reagan's radio broadcasts delivered during the 1970s before he became President. Written in his own handwriting, mostly on lined yellow pads, these documents show that he expressed his thoughts clearly, concisely and logically, and needed to make few changes and edits.
These commentaries show that Reagan was a tremendously well-educated man because he was a voracious reader whose own library was filled with books of history, economics and biography, heavily annotated in his own hand. His commentaries referred to hundreds of sources and thousands of facts and figures; he was a one-man think tank.
The commentaries show the development during the 1970s of Reagan's vision for America of a land relieved of the high-tax burdens of Big Government at home and the threat from Soviet aggression abroad. He developed his belief that Communism had to be defeated, not merely contained.
Reagan restored our faith in our country and its future with his attitude that it was morning in America. He revitalized our economy with his major tax cut that started us on an unprecedented period of economic expansion and job creation. Referring to himself as an actor, Reagan said: "Speech delivery counts for little on the world stage unless you have convictions, and, yes, the vision to see beyond the front row seats." President Ronald Wilson Reagan had the vision to see that he could end the Cold War and "build a land that will be a shining city on a hill."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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