Monday, February 6, 2012

Learn Our History Today: February 6

Learn Our History Today: On today’s date in 1911, President Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois. 

Before becoming the nation’s 40th president in 1981, Reagan had several careers—he started out as a radio sports announcer in the Midwest, which served as a springboard to a Hollywood career during the 1930s.  He earned the nickname “The Gipper” from his role of George “The Gipper” Gipp in “Knute Rockne, All American.”

During World War II, Reagan served as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, appearing in various propaganda films.  After the war, he served as the President of the Screen Actor’s Guild between 1947 and 1952.  During that same time, Reagan was a proponent of FDR’s New Deal.  In 1960, he made the switch to the Republican Party.

Reagan’s entered a life in politics in 1966, when he was nominated by California Republicans for Governor.  He was elected Governor and served two terms between 1967 and 1975. 

1976, he challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford to become the Republican Party’s candidate and established himself as a more conservative choice compared to Ford, who appeared more moderate. Ford prevailed, earning the nomination with 1,187 delegates compared to Reagan’s 1,070.  Of course, Ford lost the election of ’76 to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Reagan campaigned for the highest office in the United States again in 1980 and swept into office, carrying 44 states with 489 electoral votes (remember, 270 are needed to win the White House)!  He served two terms as president—and he managed to break his record when he was reelected in 1984; he received a record 525 electoral votes, winning 49 out of 50 states.

For the most part, Reagan’s presidency was marked by huge success—he influenced change both domestically and internationally.  During what would become known as the “Reagan Revolution,” Reagan reinvigorated American morale and reduced people’s reliance on government.  During his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, he said “In the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem!” On that same day, Iran freed 52 U.S. hostages who had been detailed for 444 days during the Iran Hostage Crisis. 

Just 69 days into his presidency, an attempt was made on Reagan’s life when he was shot by John Hinkley, Jr. as he left a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel.  Reagan suffered a punctured lung, but recovered quickly.

During his tenure, Reagan resurrected a no-nonsense perception of America throughout the world.  He boosted military spending and took a bold stance against Communism, which, in part, led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Yet, because of his charisma, he was able to cultivate a successful diplomatic and personal relationship with the Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 1986, many Americans became upset with his administration when evidence surfaced that it struck a deal to sell Iran arms, and used the money to finance anti-Communist guerrillas in Nicaragua.  Reagan, however, successfully plead plausible deniability and was dubbed the “Teflon President.”
Despite the scandal, to this day Ronald Reagan’s embodiment of a powerful leader who supported traditional American values has endured and he is recognized as one of the greatest presidents in American history.

You can help your children learn all about Reagan’s contribution by giving them Learn Our History’s very first DVD, “The Reagan Revolution” available at

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