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The Great Head of State

The Great Head of State

“He has a chance to make somebody move over on Mount Rushmore. He’s working for his place on the coins and the postage stamps.”

—Henry Graff, Columbia University, on Reagan’s second term

The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project (an affiliate of Americans for Tax Reform) is engaged in a high-profile effort to honor the legacy of Ronald Reagan through the designating and renaming of federal and local landmarks. Former AZ Republican Representative Matt Salmon suggested adding Reagan’s likeness to Mt. Rushmore. Although that project never got off the ground, the RRLC is currently attempting to find a place for the 40th president’s visage on the $10 bill. Other proposed tributes include the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site (H.R. 400) in Dixon IL , the Ronald Reagan Commemorative Coin Act of 2001 (S. 1143), and the ambitious Ronald Reagan Memorial Act of 2001 (H.R. 452) to create a memorial on the mall in Washington DC between the Capital and the Lincoln Memorial. (The National Park Service, citing the Commemorative Works Act of 1986, says that it is too early to place a monument to Reagan on the Mall since federal rules prohibit memorials to someone who hasn’t been dead for at least five years. (Ironically, it was Reagan who signed the waiting period into law.) The RRLC’s successful efforts include:

A   F I T T I N G  T R I B U T E

A 6-foot portrait of Ronald Reagan made from 14,000 jelly beans by Peter Rocha, on behalf of the Herman Goelitz Candy Co. of Illinois. The portrait hangs in the Gipper’s boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois.

Though well-intentioned, such efforts do little to honor the impact of the man and his ideas on our nation. To help sustain the Ronald Reagan legacy, I would like to propose a daring new tribute.

Like the rest of the nation, I was saddened when I found out that President Reagan had Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is the most common cause of dementia in older people and affects an estimated 4 million people in the United States. Currently, there is no treatment to stop AD and as the “baby boom” generation moves inexorably into its senior years, AD is likely to become even more widespread. In order to call attention to this disease and the serious affects that it can have on one’s health and stability, I propose that we rename AD to “Ronald Reagan’s disease“.

Say “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis” in a room full of people, and very few of them will immediately think “baseball” (though many of them may start singing “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious“); but say “Lou Gehrig“, and most people will think “Lou Gehrig’s disease” and “baseball“. Through the unfortunate circumstances of his death, Lou Gehrig’s career as a great baseball player will always be remembered.

Similarly, for those concerned that the true legacy of the Reagan presidency may be forgotten, the use of the term “Ronald Reagan’s disease” to identify a deteriorative brain disorder marked by memory loss, impaired judgment, and profound confusion will stand as a fitting tribute to the 40th president. In the process, it is hoped that the history of the Reagan years will be reexamined so that his many critics who accused him of being “doting“, “befuddled“, “daft“, “incoherent“, “addled“, “scatter-brained“, “unhinged“, “touched in the head“, “devoid of reason“, “in a fog“, “adrift at sea“, “perplexed“, “puzzled“, “mentally floundering“, “embarrassingly out of touch“,”;twitterpated“, “not firing with all thrusters“, “not dipping both oars“, or “non compos mentis” will now hang their collective heads in shame when they realize that the former movie star was simply a man suffering from a clinically diagnosed degenerative condition.

If you support this idea, please leave a comment below. I also urge you to write your legislator today. Click here for a suggested letter, or write your own.

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