Has Greatness Died – From My Vault
The following is my syndicated column from 6/15/04. How dare the corrupt Chicago community extortionist holding elected office today, compare himself to President Reagan:
We stood with tens of thousands in the streets of our nation’s Capitol to observe the final motorcade of President Ronald Reagan.
A woman who was with us elicited a smile and a wave from the former first lady Nancy Reagan, when she had called out “We love you Nancy.” Amongst my group, there were salutes, tears and an outflow of emotion from those of us who understood the significance of the lone F-16 that broke formation and streaked Heavenward by itself.
Then came the moment none of us wanted to experience nor forget. The caisson pulling the flag-draped coffin and the President’s riderless horse – fully saddled, his riding boots mounted backward into the stirrups. The dark stallion pranced somberly, from time to time jerking its head as if some unseen rider had given a quick tug of the reins.
But it was as I ascended the steps to walk out onto the tiny squares of tile and stand in the midst of greatness past, that I wondered if in the passing of President Reagan had the last vestiges of American greatness passed as well.
In that Rotunda dwelled the remembrances of “American Greatness” – those who had passed from life into infinity. I thought it fitting the President should be permitted to rest here amidst such immortality and greatness.
I was at once struck by the uniformed color guard that stood statuesque surrounding his coffin in the center of the Rotunda – two at the front, three at the rear, one off to the side. One had to strain to observe them breathing, so positioned were they.
I perceived an almost imperceptible sadness in their eyes as they protected the finality of a great man. It had been Ronald Reagan who had rescued our military from the wastelands of downtrending re-enlistments and the famines of not only spare parts and ammunition, but of meager earnings as well.
This President knew that war, as he put it, “never [came] about because we were too strong.” While not an aggressor, he knew that “For the sake of our freedom and that of others, we [could] not permit our reserve to be confused with a lack of resolve.”
I stood alone in a corner of that garden of history, observing persons paying their last respects, including the persons in my group and the Navy officer who snapped to attention, saluted and then turned with tears staining his face.
There had been a mother with her daughter who hugged her as she sobbed. The depth of emotion of those passing was palpable. Little children instinctively ceased to make noise and joust. Something transformed us all as we stood in that great hall of immortality.
The painting of the “Surrender of General Burgoyne” and the rigid yet gentlemanly respect offered to Gen. Burgoyne by the American Gen. Horatio Gates (October 17, 1777) reminded me of how President Reagan had treated then-Soviet leader Gorbachev – and the respect he, too, came to have for Reagan.
The “Frescoed Frieze of American History” seemed a fitting adornment surrounding Mr. Reagan. Within the first scene, “America and History,” a female figure representing history is holding a tablet to record the events of history as they occur. As I had said in interviews during the course of these events, “I believe it will be history who ultimately records the greatness and legacy of Ronald W. Reagan.” She appeared ready to prove my words.
It seemed that history welcomed him that night – one could not avoid the parallels. The statue of Abraham Lincoln is by Vinnie Ream – the first woman artist to receive a government commission. Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by President Reagan to the Supreme Court was its first female.
There was the statue of Thomas Jefferson, whom many (myself included) believe to be only one of two presidents who did more for America than President Reagan.
As I turned to exit that pantheon of Americana, the painting of “General George Washington Resigning His Commission” caught my attention. It seemed meet that these two legends of American democracy should share this hallowed room, for both presidents were true public servants. They “possessed an extraordinary strength of character and a wealth of public virtues.” Both “exhibited an integrity, self discipline, and devotion to duty that made [them] natural leaders” – one in nation building, the other in restoring it to her principled place of greatness.
Then I descended the marbled steps, exiting into the balmy night air – where I looked across that “Shining city upon a hill,” reflecting that an aspect of the “Glory of God” seems historically to have been to bless His people with great leaders when they were most needed.
I could not help but ponder whether America could ever be so blessed again.
About the Author
Mychal S. Massie is an ordained minister who spent 13 years in full-time Christian Ministry. Today he serves as founder and Chairman of the Racial Policy Center (RPC), a think tank he officially founded in September 2015. RPC advocates for a colorblind society. He was founder and president of the non-profit “In His Name Ministries.” He is the former National Chairman of a conservative Capitol Hill think tank; and a former member of the think tank National Center for Public Policy Research. Read entire bio here