More than 100,000 people waited in line for hours in California to have the opportunity to walk near his casket. The scene was repeated in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, where mothers, fathers, college students, business men and veterans, blue- and white-collar workers, the old and the young waited in the heat and rain and dark of night just to be in the room with the body of our beloved former president.
Hundreds of thousands more lined the streets in Washington for the processional to the Capitol and later to the funeral. Thousands more repeated the scene in California as Ronald Reagan was driven up the winding road to his library for the last time. Countless millions worldwide sat glued to their televisions throughout the week for continuous coverage of the life and legacy of a man who left the public eye a decade ago.
Americans of every race, religion and political persuasion are still mourning the passing of President Ronald Reagan. Why are so many of us ? regardless of our politics or place in life ? feeling his loss so deeply? Because Ronald Reagan was a man of sterling character, and we realize that when all is said and done, character counts.
Ronald Reagan was known around the world for his outstanding integrity, uncompromising convictions, immense kindness and unwavering faith in God. The unprecedented outpouring of love proves just how much people from all walks of life crave such truth. It shows how much we admire and look for men and women who base their lives and work on the timeless values that sometimes seem all but forgotten by our modern culture. Deep within our hearts, we still have a fondness for the courageous hero who has the ability to both conquer evil and humbly fall on his knees before his Creator.
The outpouring of respect for Ronald Reagan belies the claim that the personal lives of politicians don't matter to the public. Recent events provide strong evidence that the manner in which would-be leaders conduct themselves in their personal lives very much matters to the average American.
So what do we do now?
Do we bury this beloved leader of leaders and return to the status quo? Or do we begin to expect more ? indeed, demand more ? from America's leaders and from ourselves?
Ronald Reagan's faith and policies brought forth such tremendous victories on behalf of freedom that his presidency came to be known as the "Reagan Revolution." How fitting it would be if, from his death, there emerged a second "Reagan Revolution" ? one that would restore a belief in the Creator as the source of unconditional love and liberty.
Ronald Reagan knew more than anyone that the qualities he exemplified can be built within the hearts and lives of all of us. And he knew that the source of the qualities necessary to preserve freedom comes from the One who knows us best.
On, Feb. 4, 1982, in a speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention, he said:
It's been written that the most sublime figure in American history was George Washington on his knees in the snow at Valley Forge. He personified a people who knew that it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness, that they must seek help from God ? their Father and Preserver. Where did we begin to lose sight of that noble beginning, of our convictions that standards of right and wrong do exist and must be lived up to?
Do we really think that we can have it both ways, that God will protect us in a time of crisis even as we turn away from Him in our day-to-day life? ... The Book of St. John tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." We have God's promise that what we give will be given back many times over.
And we also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country ? "That if my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land." To preserve our blessed land, we must look to God.
As Lady Margaret Thatcher so eloquently said in her eulogy of President Reagan, "... we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had. We have his example. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children."
May the revolution commence.
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