Michael Reagan At
Leadership School Dinner
Michael Reagan was speaker at last night's Leadership School Dinner held in conjunction with the the Federalist Leadership Center and sponsored by the Civitas Institute. The conference was for high school and college students in North Carolina. It was held at the very nice Women's Club of Raleigh Center north of town (shown below). Making the event had to have been tough for Reagan after the death earlier this week of his mother Jane Wyman whose funeral was only the day before the event.
Jack Hawke (on the right below), President of the Civitas Institute was one of the people there to greet everyone as they arrived to register for the dinner.
Prior to start of the event there was a press conference where I had an opportunity to talk with Michael Reagan and take pictures.
I could not resist the urge to get a picture with Michael. I admired his father and never got a chance to meet him, so it was a special occassion for me.
Michael Reagan is an amazingly enthusiastic person and like his father, a great story teller. He shared several stories about his father's time as President and the people that he got to meet. He expressed high admiration for Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul, and made the point that his father accomplished great things because he involved other great people like these two.
He also told a story about the time his father was shot that I had never heard before. The government did not want to fly the family in during the day because they were trying to play down the incident and they were not provided transport until late that night. Therefore Michael did not get to see his father until the next day. When he saw him, one of the first things Ronald Reagan talked about was his irritation at the fact the suit he was wearing was brand new and the doctors had shredded it cutting it off him. He started talking about Hinckley, the man who shot him. He asked weren't Hinckley's parents really well off? Ronald Reagan then asked jokingly if Michael didn't think they would be willing to buy him a new suit. Like his comment to Nancy, "I forgot to duck!" it was classic Ronald Reagan.
News Channel 14 in Raleigh sent a reporter with camera to tape a short segment during the news conference. The very professional Michael Reagan did a great bit. I don't know if they used it, but I wish I had a copy. It was an amazingly positive and upbeat assessment of the problems we face in the world and the youth that will be meeting the challenges of that world.
Jack Hawke, President of Citivitas came in to talk with Michael for a few minutes as the press conference was drawing to a close. As we left to go to the dinner, the lobby was packed with people.
Jack started the dinner off by introducing some of the guests and talking about the Leadership Conference and its goals, as well as explaining some of the goals of Civitas Institute.
Next a local boy scout troop presented the colors and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The boy scouts had asked for a special opportunity to present a card of condolence to Michael Reagan for the death earlier this week of Jane Wyman (link to MSNBC story) , Michael's mother. She was an impressive person and it really is interesting how lucky the adopted Michael Reagan was to have two parents like Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman (link to her web site).
The audience at the dinner was very large and spread out over two levels because of its size.
The students at the Leaderhsip Conference were allowed to attend for free and so there was a disproportionate number of young people there last night.
One of the students was asked to make the introduction of Michael Reagan, and Brittany Farrell (shown below) did a very good job.
Michael's talk was a special event. He talked about both of his parents, but on this night his comments about his mother were obviously quite moving. He told stories about how neither of his parents believed in making their children's lives easy. The punch line of all the stories were about the self reliance that cultivated. One line his mother used that he shared with us, "I build men, not boys" and the stories backed that up.
Michael also shared some great anecdotes about his father during both the time he was Governor of California and President of the United States. One interesting view Michael shared was that Reagan's success had much to do with who else was involved in world affairs at the same time, such people as Lech Walensa, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul. Reagan worked with them for common goals.
After sharing a moving story about the class with which Reagan lost in his campaign for President in 1976, Michael expressed the opinion that it probably was a good thing he lost. He wondered if his father would have been as successful if he had not waited until the others involved in his success were in their places as well.
Michael Reagan made this a really special night and it was obvious the young people there appreciated it. Closing remarks were by Donald Devine (shown below), who had worked for Ronald Reagan when he was President. Donald was the instructor for the Leadership conference of which the dinner was a part.
It was a long drive home to the Inner Banks after the dinner in Raleigh last night and I did not get home until almost midnight. I would not have missed it for anything.