Her 52-year marriage to Ronald Reagan was one of the great love stories of our time. It was clear that the Reagan's were deeply in love and very comfortable displaying their strong feelings to all Americans. The couple was always holding hands and expressing their love in innumerable ways, showing Americans the epitome of a committed marriage.
Of course, Mrs. Reagan was no love struck weakling as the nation discovered during her White House years. She was a devoted partner and fierce protector of her husband’s legacy. Quite often at the White House, she tangled with aides such as her husband’s Chief of Staff Donald Regan. The result was that Nancy Reagan always won because no one had more influence on the President.
It was Nancy Reagan who encouraged her husband to pursue peace negotiations with the Soviet Union. The result was not only better relations between adversaries, but several summits and an historic reduction in the number of nuclear weapons.
The First Lady made the anti-drug campaign “Just Say No” her signature project during her White House years. While some doubt its long term effectiveness, it sent a clear and strong message to young people about the dangers of drugs. To support her campaign, she traveled the country promoting the anti-drug message and certainly saved lives in the process.
While she had a sometimes contentious relationship with her children, and an affiliation with astrology which was explored in several sensational books, Nancy Reagan, nonetheless, set a great example for the American people. She exuded style, grace and class and brought elegance back to the White House. While she was criticized for expensive taste and extravagant china, she gave America a beautiful White House which was the perfect setting for state dinners and other public events.
Mrs. Reagan’s most impressive accomplishment was her selfless devotion to her husband. As Ronald Reagan faced the dreaded mind crippling impact of Alzheimer’s disease over the last ten years of his life, Nancy Reagan was his constant caregiver and loving companion. Undoubtedly, her great care allowed the former President to live as long as he did with the disease. She certainly made his final years not only comfortable, but filled with love.
Hopefully, our nation’s next First Lady will follow Nancy Reagan’s example and use her as an inspiration. She is a great role model for others as a woman who showed the nation the true meaning of love in her marriage and left an enduring legacy as our country’s First Lady. Nancy Reagan will be sorely missed; may she rest in peace.