# 322, June 6, 2004
WILDCAT, West Va.: Our Nation, and half the world, came to a halt yesterday (June 5). Ronald Reagan died at 93, ten years after telling us he had Alzheimer’s disease.
We knew the day was coming, but you’re never really ready for sad news.
Along with the sadness, the old cowboy’s humor and laughter shine through. He loved to laugh and have us laugh along with him. Lord knows not everybody agreed with him, but you couldn’t help sharing a smile in admiration of his firm convictions.
You’ve already seen hours of television and millions of words written about him and his life, so I won’t attempt to contribute any more, except for two ideas: first, at the service in the Washington Cathedral, seated along with our former Presidents, I hope they reserve space for Mr. Mondale, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and maybe a few others. President Bush could invite Sen. Kerry to sit beside him… wouldn’t that be a nice gesture. Second (and I know a bunch of you are going to jump me on this one), we need to let our scientists get on with this stem cell research. It’s up to you folks that sit in the back pews on Sunday, not our leaders, to turn the tide on this one. They’ve already picked a stance, either for or against, and they can’t budge till they see a change out in the land. Alzheimer’s, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other afflictions just might be treated or cured or prevented if we give our crack scientists a chance to work on it a few years.
Mrs. Reagan can’t carry the fight by herself. Sure there’s arguments on the other side, good ones, but there’s plenty of good God-fearing scientists that can balance the value of millions of productive lives potentially extended with the research compared to the emotional issue of extra embryos. Suppose, for example, we had told Jonas Salk he couldn’t work on his vaccine for Polio because of where it came from. When it comes to these infirmities, it don’t matter how much you’ve got, or if your name is Reagan, Rockefeller, Roosevelt, Reeve, Rossetti, Rogers or Reeder.
Well, I didn’t even get to D-day, or the weather (it’s rained 7 out of the last 9 days here), or even why I’m at a place today (Sunday) called Wildcat. Mostly, it was a good week, and I’ll fill you in on it in a few days.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“if you have ever been an Actor why it just about ruins you for any useful employment for the rest of your natural life.” WA #305, Oct. 28, 1928
(Written after the death of President Warren G. Harding, in San Francisco Aug. 2, 1923)
“As I am writing this… everybody’s thoughts and sympathies are with a train rushing clear across our country, passing sorrowfully through little towns with just folks standing bareheaded paying their respects….
I liked President Harding. You see, I had met him, and I don’t believe any man could meet him and talk to him and not like him. Why, I said after first meeting him, “I thought I would be scared when they took me in but he made me feel just like talking to some good old prosperous ranchman out home.” That’s why I can understand him wanting to meet as many people personally as possible, for to meet him meant another friend.
I only hope our future presidents can be gifted with his sense of humor and justice.
He was a mighty good friend to us theatrical people; he was a good friend to ALL kinds of people. For he had the right dope after all. Everybody is JUST FOLKS. HE WAS A REAL HONEST-TO-GOD MAN.” WA #36, August 19, 1923
(after former Calvin Coolidge died…)
“Mr. Coolidge, you didn’t have to die for me to throw flowers on your grave. I have told a million jokes about you, but every one was based on some of your splendid qualities. You had a hold on the American people regardless of politics. They knew you were honest, economical and had a native common sense.
History generally records a place for a man that is ahead of his time. But we that lived with you will always remember you because you was WITH your time.
By golly, you little, red_headed New Englander, I like you. You put horse sense into statesmanship and Mrs. Coolidge’s admiration for you is an American trait.” DT #2004, Jan. 5, 1933