February is also the birth month of another great, a man who turned a country around from despair and bleakness to one of hope and brightness. Ronald Reagan, elected President after the horrible Carter years, brought his love for America and her goodness to the center stage and his positive attitude was infectious throughout real America. For those of you old enough to remember, Reagan played the part of George Gipp during his acting days and used those same words at the 1988 Republican Convention when his successor, Vice President George H.W. Bush was being nominated to run. With his characteristic twinkling eyes and charming smile he looked the Vice President squarely in the eye and said, "George, go out and win one for the Gipper".
As I think back about the man and his era I am saddened when I ponder what has happened in the land that he loved so much. Reagan's America was one full of hope and promise and a land where hard work, family values and belief in an Everlasting God were held in great esteem. Oh, he had his detractors: liberal Democrats, of course, as well as some country club Republicans reminiscent of today's RINOs who gave him lip service but really didn't care much for him. But Reagan was capable of building a consensus among many different Americans, blue collar and white collar, young and old, Republicans and Democrats who appreciated his optimism and always positive love for his country.
Contrast his outlook and presentation of goodness, dedication and honor with our current leader who looks at America as a land that he clearly does not see as something wonderful and special but, rather, something to be weakened and torn down. The comparison is stark and clear and I am truly saddened by the large number of Americans who have fallen for it either through envy of others or just plain ignorance. America is so much better than that and no one should ever let her destiny be destroyed by false hopes and manufactured fears and jealousy. True hope and change is not in the fundamental transformation of America but in building on the strengths and uniqueness that she offers to her people and the world. So looking back on the man as President and the man he played in the movies, I offer just two simple question.
Will we go out and "win one for the Gipper"? Will we follow his shining example and replace the love of power, arrogance and easy handouts with a return to the principle, practices and love of America that made her great? I pray to God that the answer is yes. We must not let the America that was founded in humility by a strong and courageous people with dignity, honor, hard work and love of freedom and which became the Greatest Nation on Earth die an undeserved death. The responsibility for keeping her light shining is totally up to us. Let's go out and make "The Gipper" proud.
God bless you all and God bless America.