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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Ronald Reagan’s Centennial Celebration

Ronald William Reagan was born in an apartment on the second floor of a commercial building in Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911. Tampico is around 100 miles west of Chicago. At the time of the former President’s birth, his father worked at a variety store in Tampico.

One place to visit on the web is the Ronald Reagan Library where you can find a great deal of information about President Reagan’s life and legacy. Just go to the Live webcasts are also planned for February 5 and 6 at the Web site. Today, President Reagan is one of the country’s most revered leaders. Visiting the Library’s website will provide you with a great deal of well-structured information.

Now, I would like to turn to my personal meetings with President Reagan.

In 1984 and 1985, I had the privilege of serving on a Presidential Committee as an appointee of President Ronald Reagan. The President’s Committee on Women’s Business Ownership held hearings throughout the country and pondered questions about unfairness in the market place towards businesses owned by women. We focused on the many inequalities and issued a report with recommendations.

As a result of being on the Committee, I had two rare occasions to meet with President Reagan personally. The first came at a luncheon with the Committee and President Reagan in the Cabinet Room of the White House. During that luncheon, there was a give and take session with the President on the issues faced by the Committee. In order to put us at ease, the President started the luncheon by telling us to feel free to talk with our mouths full of food, or we would not get any work done. Needless to say, no one did – but there were many quick gulps. After the luncheon, the President took the time to pose for a picture with each member of the Committee in a relaxed atmosphere.

The next time I met with the President personally was at a State Dinner for President Jayewardene of Sri Lanka. It was in June of 1984. Other guests included Mr. and Mrs. Frank Sinatra, Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys, Fred MacMurray, and June Hauer, and Vice President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush. With Frank Sinatra singing for his supper and a star studded cast of guests, it was a thrilling experience. From the military escorts to the elaborate table settings, there was perfection – just at it should be at the home of the Free World’s leader. Violins at dinner set a tone of ambiance for the evening.

But, it was after dinner that the President’s sense of humor really came through. A small group had gathered in the lobby of the White House with the military orchestra playing in the background. In this small group was the President and Rich Little, the comedian. Rich Little was imitating President Reagan. Then, the president imitated Rich Little imitating Ronald Reagan. Everyone had a great laugh including the President.

The last time I met with the president was in 1988 when I was running for the United States Senate against Daniel Patrick Moynihan. President Reagan took time out of his busy day to meet with several Senate candidates. During the course of our discussions, I raised with the President whether he felt the Soviet Union would be interested in a program to reduce conventional arms in Europe. He indicated that the subject was discussed with Mr. Gorbachev at the recent Summit. He further stated that the reduction of conventional arms could be an important new opportunity for discussions with the Russians.

Next, he set up the taping of a video commercial for me to use during the campaign. If you would like to see it, go to and click on video. While there was not one minute in that campaign that I ever felt that Pat Moynihan, the incumbent, could be defeated, Ronald Reagan still gave of his own time to give me a hand. That video has meant a lot to me over the years and just one of the positive signs about the wonderful nature of Ronald Wilson Reagan. He was a kind and wonderful human being beyond his leadership qualities.


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