By Paul J. Batura | Fox News
Four decades later, America remains in desperate need of the values and principles that President Ronald Reagan so heartily championed.
Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena was demolished earlier this spring, but exactly 40 years ago – July 17, 1980 – its then sparkling new rafters were reverberating with the triumphant cheers of Republican delegates as Ronald Reagan accepted his party’s nomination for president.
There was no global coronavirus pandemic in the summer of 1980, of course, but Americans were nevertheless dismayed and disheartened, hungry for better days and eager for more prosperous times.
There was the ongoing American hostage crisis in Iran, rising unemployment, the United States Olympic team boycott of the summer games in Moscow, and a crippling heat wave across the Midwest and southern states that claimed 1,700 lives.
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Enter stage right the former governor of California, Ronald Wilson Reagan.
With a sunny disposition, a wide smile and a stiff upper lip, Mr. Reagan’s optimistic speech began with soaring prose – and ended in silent prayer.
President Trump should take note.
In re-reading Mr. Reagan’s acceptance speech, I think there are five lessons we can learn from his wisdom that would serve us well in this summer of discontent.
1. Remember that most Americans want the same things.
Leftist activists have either hijacked or browbeat much of America’s media into championing fringe and dangerous causes that neither serve nor celebrate our best principles. Don’t buy the lie the left is trying to sell. I believe there still remains a majority of well-meaning citizens hungry for the American dream.
“I’m very proud of our Party tonight,” Governor Reagan began. “This convention has shown to all America a party united, with positive programs for solving the nation’s problems, a party ready to build a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom.”
2. The best way to solve a problem is to tackle it head-on.
Fear may be inevitable, but it is always surmountable. From the quest for a vaccine to an uneven economy to standing up to violent mobs that desecrate churches, now is the time to do the tough but right thing.
“I will not stand by and watch this great country destroy itself under mediocre leadership that drifts from one crisis to the next, eroding our national will and purpose,” the future president declared.
“We have come together here because the American people deserve better from those to whom they entrust our nation’s highest offices, and we stand united – we stand united in our resolve to do something about it.”
3. Do not demonize our past – but learn from it.
The toppling of statues and the attempted erasure of America’s imperfect history does a grave disservice to our children and future generations to come. Yes, there have been errors of judgment, but America has been and remains the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
“We need a rebirth of the American tradition of leadership at every level of government and in private life as well,” said Reagan 40 summers ago.
We still do.
Detroit, MI – 1980: Ronald Reagan speaking at the 1980 Republican National Convention, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, July, 1980. (Photo by Joe McNally /Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
4. American greatness is about vision, values – and getting the job done.
President Trump’s Independence Day eve speech from Mount Rushmore was derided for being “dark and divisive” – all for extolling and summoning the nation’s most cherished ideals. Those who want to “remake” America threaten the nation’s foundation by ignoring George Washington’s warning that there exists “an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness.”
Mr. Reagan hinted at that connection when he urged, “Let us make a commitment to care for the needy; to teach our children the virtues handed down to us by our families; to have the courage to defend those values and virtues, and the willingness to sacrifice for them.”
5. Don’t be afraid to publicly pray. We answer to a higher power than the liberal elites.
Activists and left-wing organizations regularly bully elected representatives and private citizens to keep their faith private. We shouldn’t be obnoxious about it, but true faith manifests itself in everything we do and therefore shouldn’t be hidden.
His voice breaking with emotion, Governor Reagan concluded his remarks with a personal revelation:
“I have thought of something that’s not a part of my speech and worried over whether I should do it,” he said slowly. “Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe free? I’ll confess that I’ve been a little afraid to suggest what I’m going to suggest. I’m more afraid not to.”
He then added,
“Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer?”
Four decades later, America remains in desperate need of prayer, along with the values and principles that President Ronald Reagan so heartily championed during his two terms in office.
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