I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
First, a disclaimer. This has nothing to do with politics, and I’m not interested in discussing political ideologies or affinities. This is strictly anecdotal.
For me, Mrs. Reagan’s passing marks the end of an era that represented my childhood. I grew up a child of the 80’s, which, as I constantly tell my children, was the greatest time in history to be a kid. At the forefront, of course, was “Ron and Nancy.”
I came to the United States from the Philippines in 1984. My first exposure to American presidential pop culture was to Ron and Nancy. As a wide-eyed kid coming from a foreign land, it was as close to royalty as you could get. They were beloved by the public. They were always on TV, whether it was the news, or making special appearances on my favorite shows. I knew how to “Just Say No” and stay away from drugs because of Nancy.
I had no idea about anything of politics. I didn’t know what the difference was between a Democrat and a Republican. I didn’t know what Ronald Reagan stood for or against. All I knew was that he was my president. The Reagans were a constant, and the anchor of my childhood.
Fast forward to 2004. I worked for the United States Senate that year (that’s another story for another time). While I was there, Ronald Reagan passed away. It was surreal for me at the time, just as it is today. My president was gone.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been a Congressional Staffer at the time in that regard. We’ve all seen the famous funeral procession of John F. Kennedy in Washington, DC on TV. This time, I was witness to history. I stood on Constitution Avenue as President Reagan’s casket made its way to the U.S. Capitol Building.
He laid in state in the Capitol rotunda, and the viewing was open to the public. People lined up for hours, sometimes 12 or more hours, to enter the rotunda. Fortunately, as a Staffer, we had our own queue, and it took us about 45 minutes to get through the line and into the rotunda. It was in the middle of the workday, and I went AWOL at work for a couple of hours so I could pay my respects.
So now as we say goodbye to Nancy, I am awash in 20 years of nostalgia and memories all in one instant. Since I cannot pay my respects in person, as I did for her husband, I do so here. Rest in Peace, Mrs. Reagan, and thank you for being an inspiration for a generation, and for your class, grace, and service.