This has never been a political blog, so please don’t misinterpret the inclusion of our 40th President as a departure from that principle. He was a great man, and the things which made for his inclusion on this list aren’t political.
For example, Reagan was optimistic about our country and our future. He took office just six years after Nixon resigned in shame and immediately following a crisis in which Americans were held hostage for a year in Iran. His belief in our institutions, our people, and our Constitution were contagious – and very much needed.
And it isn’t just his Presidency that is worth honoring. He was a good actor – not great – and retained a lifelong nickname of The Gipper from his role as George Gipp in 1940’s Knute Rockne, All-American. He became familiar on the small screen as well, serving as a spokesman for General Electric on The General Electric Theater, then later hosting Death Valley Days as well.
It’s sometimes said by his detractors that Reagan’s policies weren’t all that popular, but he persuaded people because he was such a good communicator. In his farewell address, he refuted that idea. “I wasn’t a great communicator,” he said, “but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation — from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries.”