As we celebrate President Ronald Reagan’s birthday on Feb. 6, I reflect on his impact from my personal experiences and his example of leadership for all of us.
He was elected president at an age when most people slowed down and enjoyed retirement. Reagan demonstrated that it is never too late to positively impact others.
On March 30, 1981, I was in Caracas, Venezuela, on a company rewards trip. When we returned to the cruise ship that afternoon, I vividly remember listening to the BBC report on the assassination attempt on our president. Little did we know how close he came to losing his life that day.
I couldn’t imagine then that I would have the privilege to see him speak in San Antonio in his first public speech after the attempted assassination to the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce national convention. My friends and I were relegated to the cheap seats in the Hemisfair arena. Reagan’s voice was weak that day, but we strained to hear his every word.
I’ll never forget the goosebumps I experienced when he closed with the inspiration for our civic group to give more to our fellow citizens.
“If not you who, if not now when?” he inquired. You could feel the energy from the thousands of people in the hall who were ready to storm out and give of themselves because our beloved president asked us to do so.
Reagan’s positive attitude was contagious and lifted the United States out of the malaise of the 1970s.