I received a fascinating book by UPS yesterday. It is titled The Reagan Diaries. As the title indicates, this book contains edited selections from Former President Ronald Wilson Reagan’s personal journals which he kept daily during his two term presidency (1981-1989). The handwritten entries from five leatherbound 8 1/2″ by 11″ journals have been edited and published by historian Douglas Brinkley. This is of tremendous value historically, especially since only four other presidents (including George Washington) have kept diaries so consistently. The appearance of this volume is also a great reminder of how important it is to have the perspective of history to accurately assess our presidents. Although maligned by much of the media of his day, nearly twenty years after Reagan’s presidency has ended the dust is beginning to settle and a true assessment of his presidency can finally be discussed fairly. At last we are enabled to see the inner thoughts of the man who was credited by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as winning the Cold War “without firing a shot.” Reagan is seen in this volume to be a humble man who was patient with his enemies, but who also held strong convictions from which he did not waver. One of the most interesting entries in Reagan’s diary is the one from March 30, 1981 (the day he was shot):
Getting shot hurts. Still my fear was growing because no matter how hard I tried to breathe it seemed I was getting less & less air. I focused on that tiled ceiling and prayed. But I realized I couldn’t ask for Gods help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. Isn’t that the meaning of the lost sheep? We are all God’s children & therefore equally beloved by him. I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back to the fold….
Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve him in every way I can (12).
What a President! What a man!