Five Years: Reflections of a Son

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By Michael Reagan President and Chairman of the Reagan Legacy Foundation

[caption id="attachment_12223" align="alignleft" width="186" caption="A bronze statue of President Ronald Reagan stands in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington"][/caption]

This past Friday marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of my father, Ronald Reagan. Like others who have lost a parent, I spent that day reflecting on our relationship and thinking about all of the great moments we shared together as father and son.

Through the good and bad times, especially the periods when he was gone for long stretches of time, I always looked forward to his smiling face, warm embraces and fatherly advice. Like any family, ours was far from perfect. Yet, he provided me with counsel that continues to influence my personal and public life to this day and beyond.

Many of you remember the myriad of magical moments of the Reagan years: his party-changing 1976 "time capsule" speech; paying tribute to fallen heroes at Pointe du Hoc or his challenge to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" These moments accurately depict Ronald Reagan, the public persona; they are not the whole of the man.

As the Republican Party struggles to find its identity, my father's name has been invoked to bolster arguments by various groups and individuals in pursuit of their own political gain. These self-serving assertions are dividing the GOP, not uniting it as my father strived to do throughout his life. While in a perverse way, these efforts are certainly a tribute to his unparalleled legacy, many in the political arena, both Republican and Democratic, take only mere snippets of one of his speeches or public statements and conform them to fit their own self-interests.

One must look at the entirety of Ronald Reagan to comprehend his depth and substance. As my own children grow older, I am trying my best to teach them the many lessons I learned from him: honesty and steadfastness in the face of adversity; the courage to face and fight through difficult truths; a compassion carried out through actions, not just words; and an ingenuity that surpasses obstacles.

These traits are not only the mark of a good president, but a good man, and a good father. In the midst of today's challenges, I will choose to use all of them, the entirety of Ronald Reagan, to guide me on this journey. I hope that my fellow Republicans will do the same.

I mourn the passing of my father five years ago. But tomorrow and beyond I will be standing with Republicans of good will on opposing sides of the conservative divide to discuss the importance of my father's legacy to the future of our party, and on our nation. I am dedicating myself to reminding all who listen of the relevance of Ronald Reagan's timeless principles for today's Republican Party - to helping them discover the meaning of a "21stCentury Reagan."