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Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the U.S.

This is our tribute to President Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan, our 40th President of the US, was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois to parents John Edward and Nelle Wilson Reagan. Ronald had two brothers and a sister including Jack, Neil and Nelle.

When Ronald was a child, the Reagan family moved a lot. His father was constantly searching for a better life and Ronald was forever the new kid in school. During one period of four years, he attended four different schools. Tampico, where Ronald was born, had a population of only 820. There was a short paved main street, a railroad station, two or three churches, and a couple of stores, including the one where his father worked.

When Ronald was two, the family moved to Chicago, where his father had gotten a promising job selling shoes at the Marshall Field's department store. The Reagan family moved into a small flat near the University of Chicago that was lighted by a single gas jet brought to life with the deposit of a quarter in a slot down the hall. Next, they moved to Galesburg 140 miles to the west of Chicago.

World War I started while Ronald Reagan lived in Galesburg. Like almost every other American during those years, he was filled with pride every time I heard a band play "Over There" or I thought of our doughboys crossing the Atlantic on a noble mission to save our friends in Europe. There were some days when everybody in Galesburg dropped whatever they were doing and rushed down to the depot to cheer on a troop train passing through town. The train windows were usually open to the air and the doughboys would be in their khaki uniforms and would wave to us; the kids waved back and cheered. Once my mother picked him up and gave him a penny, which he gave to a soldier, saying in his small voice, "Good luck."

After graduation from High School, Ronald Reagan went to work in his fathers show store.Then came his big break.

In 1930, Ronald was discovered by Hollywood Producer, Jack Warner, and young Ronald went on to star in several dozen movies, the last one in 1964.

Ronard Reagan went on to Star in dozens of movies between 1930 and 1964.

Young Ronald Reagan

In 1965, Ronald took a job travelling the state and giving speeches pretty much the same as he had done earlier for GE. According to Ronald Reagan, "Starting roughly July 1, 1965, I drove up and down the length and breadth of California for six months, the speeches had pretty much the same flavor that my speeches had had since the later years on the General Electric plant tours; after the speeches, I'd hear a lot of the same things from members of the audience that I'd heard for years on the GE tours. No matter where I went, in San Jose or Modesto, Los Angeles or Newport Beach, after I'd give a speech, people would be waiting and they'd come up to me and say, "Why don't you run for governor?" Well, my plan worked out that way, but not in the way I expected. Starting roughly July 1, 1965, I drove up and down the length and breadth of California for six months, the speeches had pretty much the same flavor that my speeches had had since the later years on the General Electric plant tours; after the speeches, I'd hear a lot of the same things from members of the audience that I'd heard for years on the GE tours. No matter where I went, in San Jose or Modesto, Los Angeles or Newport Beach, after I'd give a speech, people would be waiting and they'd come up to me and say, "Why don't you run for governor?"

After about three months of this, he returned home one night and said to Nancy, "This isn't working out the way I thought it would. You know, these guys may be right. All these people are telling me after my speeches that I ought to run for governor; this may end up putting us in an awful spot." When the six months were almost over, he asked her: "How do you say no to all these people?" If I decided to run, we agreed our life we knew and loved would change dramatically, perhaps forever. But he told Nancy: "I don't think we can run away from it." She agreed.

Ronald then called the people who were pressing him to run against Brown and said, "Okay, I'll do it," and on a television broadcast January 4, 1966, he announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

Ronald won the chance to run against Brown after a Republican primary campaign that was very bitter at times, largely because of the lingering split between conservatives and moderates in the state party. His principal opponent in the primary was George Christopher, a former mayor of San Francisco who tried simultaneously to portray Reagan as a right-wing extremist and attack him because he'd admitted having been in Communist front groups - without mentioning that he'd resigned and declared war on them as soon as he realized what they were.

Ronald Reagan, the Campaigner

After beating Christopher in the primary, Reagan had to deal with Brown whose campaign against him, simply put, asked a question: What is an actor doing seeking an important job like the governorship of California? When Pat Brown commissioned a television commercial in which he told a group of small children, "I'm running against an actor, and you know who killed Abe Lincoln, don't you?," he knew he was in trouble.

Pat Brown then brought Senator Edward Kennedy to California to help him campaign, and he began a speaking trip around the state declaring, "Reagan has never held any political office before and here he is seeking the top spot in the government of California." He abandoned that theme after Reagan's next speech, when Reagan said, "I understand there's a senator from Massachusetts who's come to California and he's concerned that I've never held office prior to seeking this job. Well, you know, come to think of it, the senator from Massachusetts never held any job before he became a senator."

One of Brown's favorite ploys was to say, "Reagan is only an actor who memorizes speeches written by other people, just like he memorized the lines that were fed to him by his screenwriters in the movies. Sure, he makes a good speech, but who's writing his speeches?" Well, I was writing my speeches. But I couldn't get up and say to an audience, "Hey, I write my own speeches."

The climax to Brown's campaign of bad taste was his guilt-through-association commercial late in the campaign comparing Reagan to an actor named John Wilkes Booth - Lincoln's assassin. On Election Day Reagan defeated Brown by a margin of fifty-eight percent to forty-two percent.

Ronald Reagan went on to serve as Governor of California and then two terms as President of the United States. He was known as the "great communicator" and is widely credited for winning the cold war and bringing down the Berlin wall bringing fredom to millions.

Reagan died at the age of 93 at his home in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 5, 2004.


February 6, 1911- Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Ill. to Nelle Wilson and Jack Reagan. The Reagans had one previous son, Neil "Moon" Reagan, born in 1908. Reagan earned the nickname "Dutch" from his father, who remarked that "he looked like a fat little Dutchman."

1920 The Reagans moved to a succession of rural northern Illinois towns until they settled in Dixon, Illinois in December. Though the Reagans moved frequently, Dixon remains the place that Reagan considers his hometown.

1922 Reagan baptized at the Christian Church of Dixon, Illinois.

1926 Beginning in 1926, Reagan was employed as a lifeguard at Lowell Park in Dixon. Lowell Park is located alongside the Rock River, a sometimes dangerous body of water. He was credited with saving 77 lives during the six years he worked there, making him a local legend long before his careers in media and politics.

1924-1928 Reagan attended Dixon High School. He played on the football team and participated in school plays, foreshadowing his own movie career. Reagan was elected student body president in 1927.

1928-1932 Reagan attended Eureka College, a small liberal arts institution, and majored in economics and sociology. While at Eureka, Reagan pursued his interest in drama and became determined to become an actor. Reagan also served as student body president and helped organize a student strike.

1932 Reagan casts his first presidential vote, for FDR.

Reagan received a temporary sports broadcasting job with WOC, a small radio station in Davenport, Iowa. He impressed the station manager with his ability to replay entire football games from memory. He obtained a part-time job announcing University of Iowa games before landing a full time job the next year.

1933 WHO, in Des Moines and WOC merge. Reagan moved to Des Moines as chief sports announcer. Reagan broadcast Cubs games from the studio, including a memorable incident where he described repeated "foul balls" to the audience when his game feed was interrupted for over six minutes.

1935 Reagan enlists in the Army Reserve.

1937 Reagan traveled west to cover the Cubs spring training. While in LA he took a screen test and was soon offered a contract by Warner Brothers for $200 per week. When told of the offer via telegram Reagan replied "sign before they change their minds".

Reagan appeared in his first film, Love is on the Air.

Among other films and roles, Reagan realized his boyhood dream by playing George Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American. Over the next few years he starred in such films as King's Row, Sante Fe Trail and Brother Rat.

Reagan promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Reserve Corps of Cavalry.

1938 Reagan joins board of the Screen Actor's Guild.

The film Sergeant Murphy is released on February 1st.

January 16th, 1940 Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman married. They met while making the movie Brother Rat.

January 4th, 1941 Maureen was born.

September 17th, 1941 Reagan testifies before before the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Communism in Hollywood

April 19th, 1942 Reagan is called up from the Army reserves and assigned to the Army Air Corps. He spent WWII in the Army Air Corps Intelligence 1st Motion Picture Unit, dedicated to training pilots. Reagan would make many training films, briefing films for pilots and wartime films like Rear Gunner to boost morale.

September, 1942 Reagan stars in King's Row, wherein he plays Drake McHugh. One of the film's most memorable lines "Where's the rest of me?" would later become the title of Reagan's first autobiography.

January 14th, 1943 Reagan is promoted to First Lieutenant

July 22nd, 1943 The Army promoted Reagan to the rank of Captain

February 2nd, 1945 Reagan is recommended for promotion to Major

March 14th, 1945 Adopted son, Michael, was born.

July 17th, 1945 Promotion to Major denied

August 21st, 1945 Reagan signs multi-million dollar contract with Warner Brothers studio.

Fall, 1945 Reagan is one of the first persons to be able to view film of liberated concentration camps when it is delivered to the 1st Motion Picture Unit. It is a major influence on his world view.

December 9th, 1945 The Army honorably discharged Captain Reagan. Reagan spent 10 years in the Army Reserve and on active duty in the Army Air Corps.

1945-1965 Reagan resumed his acting career after the war. Reagan made fifty-three motion pictures and one television movie.

1945 Michael adopted by Ronald and Jane.

1946-1948 Reagan becomes President of the Screen Actor's Guild. He guides the Guild through a difficult strike period which was intermixed by a hunt for Communists in Hollywood. As later information would reveal, the Communist Party, USA was behind the strikes, and was acting on orders from their counterparts in the Soviet Union.

March, 1947 Reagan is elected President of the Screen Actor's Guild for the first time. He is subsequently re-elected five times.

June 4th, 1947 Reagan stars in That Hagan Girl, with Shirley Temple.

October 25th, 1947 Testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee about Communism in Hollywood.

Fall, 1948 Reagan supports Harry Truman for President.

June 28th, 1949 Reagan's divorce from Jane Wyman is finalized. Reagan's increasing involvement in politics and the couple's diverging movie careers were the main reasons behind the split.

1950 Reagan writes guest columns for Victor Riesel's labor column.

April, 1950 Reagan campaigned for Helen Gahagan Douglas for the Senate.

Fall, 1950 Reagan switches his support to Richard Nixon. Inheriting from his father a New Deal orientation in politics, Reagan slowly shifted his views over the years as a concern with Communism overshadowed his ties to the party of the New Deal. In the 1950s he began to campaign on behalf of the strongest candidate against Communism, which was frequently a Republican.

December 7th, 1950 Reagan makes his network television debut in Nash Airflyte Theatre. He would eventually star in over sixty television shows.

1951 Reagan stars in the comedy Bedtime for Bonzo.

March 4th, 1952 Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis wed.

June, 1952 Reagan delivers the commencement address America the Beautiful at William Woods College in Fulton, Missouri.

October 22nd, 1952 Patricia was born.

Fall, 1952 Reagan campaigned as a Democrat for Eisenhower.

Fall, 1952 Reagan stars as Grover C. Alexander in The Winning Team, his last film for Warner Brothers.

May 2nd, 1953 Named Honorary Mayor of Malibu Lake, California.

1954 Reagan accepted a job as spokesman for the General Electric Company. This allowed him to tour the country as he gave motivational speeches to GE employees. He also starred in GE Theater, hosting the show an occasionally appearing in feature roles.

1955 Named Honorary Mayor of Thousand Oaks, California.

1956 Reagan again campaigns as a Democrat for Eisenhower.

May 28th, 1958 Ronald Prescott was born.

November, 1959 Reagan is again elected President of the Screen Actors Guild.

July, 1960 Reagan resigns as President of the Screen Actors Guild following a strike. He and Nancy also resign from the Board.

Fall, 1960 Reagan campaigns for Richard Nixon for President.

February 5th, 1962 Reagan makes a Grand Jury appearance in the MCA-SAG anti-trust hearing.

March, 1962 GE discontinues GE Theatre. Reagan's last appearance is broadcast on August 26th, 1962.

Fall, 1962 Reagan officially changes his party registration to Republican. He supports Richard Nixon's campaign for California governor.

1964 Reagan becomes host of Death Valley Days on TV. He appeared in or hosted twenty-one episodes broadcast from 1965-6.

Starred in The Killers, uncharacteristically portraying the villain.

October 27th, 1964 Reagan's television address for Goldwater, A Time for Choosing, launches his political career. A group of California businessmen soon afterward approached Reagan and convinced him to run for Governor of California. Reagan would continue to use A Time for Choosing in the months and years ahead as a staple of his fundraising appearances and motivational talks.

1965 Reagan's first autobiography, Where's the Rest of Me? is published.

Reagan resigns as host of Death Valley Days

1966 Reagan defeated incumbent governor Edmund G. ("Pat") Brown in a landslide, winning by more than a million votes. He obtains the second nickname "Governor". His success in the election and as governor made him a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968. Governor Reagan won the loyalty of conservatives by initially opposing state spending and tax increases, but he proved to be a pragmatist when California's growth required an expansion of government services. He left Sacramento in 1974 with the California budget showing a $550-million surplus.

January 2nd, 1967 Reagan is sworn in as California Governor.

1968 Reagan made a tentative run for the presidency, waiting until the Republican National Convention in August to announce his candidacy. He later joined in unanimously supporting Richard Nixon.

An attempt is made on Reagan's life. At least two people tried to firebomb Reagan's residence, but were driven off by Secret Service gunfire.

May 15th, 1969 Governor Reagan calls out the National Guard to quell violence at Berkeley. Reagan's most controversial decision while Governor was his hard-line stance against student uprisings at Berkeley and other California colleges. Reagan believed the disturbances were caused by outside agitators. Subsequent research would reveal that Communist organizations were behind many of the violent activities in and around the campuses.

November, 1970 Reagan is re-elected Governor of California.

1971 Reagan signs the California Welfare Reform Act.

Fall, 1974 For several months after his gubernatorial term ended, Reagan wrote a syndicated newspaper column and provided commentaries on radio stations across the country.

Reagan declines offers from the Ford Administration to become either the Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, Secretary of Transportation or Secretary of Commerce.

November 20th, 1975 Reagan announced candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. He lost the party's nomination, but his strong showing and moving speech at the convention laid the groundwork for his election in 1980.

August 19th, 1976 Reagan addresses the Republican National Convention in Kansas City.

November 13th, 1979 Reagan announced his candidacy for President.

February 23rd, 1980 Famous debate in Nashua, New Hampshire where Reagan states "I paid for this microphone" when debate moderators try to exclude anyone except candidates Reagan and Bush. Reagan's inclusion of all candidates garners voter good will and helps him win the New Hampshire primary.

March 18th, 1980 Reagan debates Bush, John Anderson and Phil Crane (the only remaining candidates).

April 24th, 1980 Debates George Bush in Houston.

July 16th, 1980 Reagan nominated by the Republican Party to run for President. He choses fellow candidate George Bush as his running mate after talks with former President Gerald Ford fail to achieve and agreement for him to join the ticket as the VP candidate. Reagan's platform calls for "a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom." Reagan also championed an across-the-board cut in tax rates, increased defense spending and decreasing overall Federal spending to lower deficits.

September 21st, 1980 Reagan debates John Anderson, who is running as an independent candidate for President after failing to win the Republican nomination. Jimmy Carter declines to participate.

October 28th, 1980 Debates Jimmy Carter.

November 4th, 1980 Reagan is elected the 40th President of the United States in a landslide victory over the incumbent, Jimmy Carter.

1981 January 5th Named TIME magazine's "Man of the Year".

January 20th Reagan sworn in as the 40th President of the United States. Delivered first inaugural speech.

March 30th, 1981 Assassination attempt by John W. Hinckley, Jr.

April 11th, 1981 President Reagan released from George Washington Hospital.

October 2nd, 1981 Announced the United States Strategic Weapons Initiative.

June 11th, 1982 Visited West Berlin.

1984 January 16th Addressed nation on U.S.-Soviet relations.

1989 January 1st Addressed Soviet Union. Gorbachev addressed United States.

January 11th, 1989 Gave Farewell Address to the nation.

January 20th, 1989 Left the White House and returned to California.

Saturday, June 5, 2004. Reagan died of pnemonia at the age of 93 at his home in Los Angeles.

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