Sunday, June 06, 2004


"Every now and then when I worked in the Reagan White House, I would look up from my notes at a meeting and look at the faces around the table...or go for a walk in the halls and look into the offices of young men and women with their heads bent over a report or a memo...and I would think: "We are the ones who will walk behind the caisson. Some day when we are older he will die, and there will be a great funeral with a flag-draped coffin and a riderless horse with the boots turned backward, and behind that will be the family and friends, and behind them, us." The television cameras high up near the plywood anchor booths hastily assembled on Pennsylvania Avenue will go to a wide shot, and Dan Rather will say, "And here, the men and women who were the special assistants and the undersecretaries... When you say 'Reagan Administration,' you're talking about them."

"It wouldn't be sad. I could even imagine it as jolly. He would die with his boots on, "having known not...bitterness nor defeat." He would just have turned one hundred... He would have lived to see the Communist world break up, and seen us build the manned space station. An old man exhausted in a great struggle, one of the leaders of the Eighties we now, in the year 2011, acknowledge to have been great. Reagan, Thatcher, John Paul II, perhaps Gorbachev...dead now, and here we are gathered once again, like the end of 'Chariots of Fire', where one of the old running stars, bent and gray, turns to a friend at Harold Abraham's funeral and says, 'We did it, didn't we?' as the stern chords of 'Jerusalem' boom from the Cathedral."

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