Former President Ronald Reagan died Saturday, June 5, 2004. I have been thinking a lot about his legacy since I heard the news. I believe that he will be remembered as a fairly successful president, definitely the most popular president in American's memory since Kennedy. I know that even before his death, when I talked about Reagan in my class rooms, many student's held him in very high esteemed. These are kids who would have only been a few years old while he was in office, yet his mystique has already influenced them.
I have often wondered why his appeal is so strong. In my class room I discuss how during his administration the poor got poorer, the U.S. deficit expanded tremendously, and the Iran-Contra Scandal. Yet these negatives don't seemed to diminish perhaps his greatest accomplishment -- that the Cold War began to come to a close during his years in office. I'm sure in the future historians will continue to argue about whether or not Reagan's policies actually helped lead to the end of the Cold War or whether the collapse of Communist East Europe was inevitable. However, the fact that he put emphasis on standing strong against communism, suggests that he did play a significant role in the end of the Cold War.
Some great Reagan sites include:
Ronald Reagan Library
Ronald Reagan Memorial Foundation
Ronald Reagan on the White House site
CNN story on Reagan's Presidency and Death