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Reagan's passing elicits strong responses


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YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Ronald Wilson Reagan

(CNN) -- CNN.com asked its users to reflect on the death of Ronald Reagan and share their memories of the former president.

Thousands of e-mails were received from around the world. Here is a sampling of responses, some of which have been edited. Send in your thoughts.

Kathy Monahan-Murphy from Springfield, Virginia:

What I remember best is his sense of humor. I was a political appointee during his administration and, as such, went to White House welcoming ceremonies. One was for an African king who was a very large man in a blue robe. ... My daughter, then not quite 3 years old, asked "if the lady in the blue dress was Mrs. Reagan." As embarrassed as I was, I was relieved to see the president struggling to keep a straight face. He was a great man.

L. Walters from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

I wish people and the media would view Reagan with a more balanced view instead of deifying him. If they want to remember him as personable, optimistic and well-spoken, fine. But I wish they would also remember that his economic programs favored the wealthy and hurt the middle class, that his tax cuts led to a huge deficit, that his deregulation of many agencies led to less protection for the environment and that his administration was rife with corruption, including Iran Contra. If he is praised for successes, he also should be held responsible for failures.

Sally from Rock Hill, South Carolina:

Without any question, what I will remember and admire most about Ronald Reagan was his complete love and devotion to his wife, Nancy. Theirs was a true lifelong love affair that was openly shared.

Fran from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

I don't understand this overwhelming response to the death of a man who claims Christian and family values but single-handedly wiped out so many social programs that directly contributed to the historic rise in the number of homeless people. That is a direct affront to the very definition of Christianity.

Lee Silverman from Valley Cottage, New York:

I remember back in grade school, Reagan was president, and growing up with the fear of terrorism stemming from the Iran hostage situation. I was in the sixth grade and had written a letter to President Reagan with my concerns and asked for his help in ending these issues. After a few months, I had forgotten about the letter, but one day I came home from school to find a letter waiting. It said that the president is concerned as well and one day hopes to end all threats of terrorism. ... It was nice to know that Mr. Reagan viewed these same issues some 20 years ago.

Dray from Washington, D.C.:

It is telling that many of the people visiting Reagan's body and who attended the ceremonies yesterday were white. It is telling because it illustrates just how large race issues play in politics and how little his presidency benefited black people. Reagan was certainly not America's president; he was white America's president. He clearly appealed to the Southern white racist population and has shaped the clearly regressive policies of the current Republican Party.

Thomas Bloemeke from Durham, North Carolina:

I joined the Navy in 1982. In my first tour of duty, I was assigned to the USS Independence. I went on a liberty call in Portsmouth, England. While there, we were in our dress uniforms, as was required. Several older gentlemen came up to a group of us and made the comment, "When you go home, tell Ronnie Reagan that the Brits are behind him 100 percent." I still recall that more than 20 years later. It is a proud testament to President Reagan and the impact he had on so many people across the world.

Christine G. from Lawton, Oklahoma:

I grew up in Germany close to the border of the former East Germany. In our area, we were constantly aware of, that if the former Soviet Union would attack us, we would fall prey to them before the German and American military forces would have a chance to respond. We were frightened to death of that possibility. With the end of the Cold War, Germany was once again liberated. What I mean by this is liberated from having to live in fear. This all happened because of one man's vision and compassion, and his name is Mr. Ronald Reagan.

Clifford Thorpe Hammond from Brownville, New York:

When I was an 18-year-old infantryman in West Germany, I felt like President Reagan was thinking about my job and me doing it. He was always on the Armed Forces Network, always talking directly to the troops. He presented himself like a proud grandpa -- a caring leader who liked my company and admired my service. I drove a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. I proudly stenciled "The Gipper" on mine. Within my young irrational 18 year-old mind I lusted for the chance to drive "The Gipper" right into Moscow smashing all things Soviet along the way.

Gerald Moore from Malvern, Pennsylvania:

My friend's mother worked for a government program that targeted minorities, providing education and vocational training. Reagan's tax cuts cut off the funding for this very successful program. My friend's mom buckled under the stress of providing for her family after working there for many years. She became ill and passed away within a year and a half.

Bob MacIntosh from Billerica, Massachusetts:

To illustrate the genius and common sense of President Reagan's message: I am a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts who voted for him twice and am proud of it. When he gave a speech, I thought he was talking directly to me. This was the power of the "great communicator."

Gil Torres Jr. from Miami, Florida:

I was in boot camp at [South Carolina's] Parris Island (U.S. Marine Corps) with Platoon 2034 around March 1986 when President Reagan visited the base. We had to do a marching presentation for our commander in chief; he then gave us a powerful speech that day. I still remember how his picture, along with [those of] the rest of our chain of command, were displayed in every barracks, as it has been a tradition for the recruits to know every name in that chain of command by heart. I am proud to have served "The Honorable Mr. Reagan."

Don from Orlando, Florida:

I was in the Navy during Reagan's tenure. I was glad that I was because there were no jobs anywhere else. Reagan eliminated most federal programs that helped low-income families with child care and job training. (Remember Head Start?) He eliminated most federal funding for hospitals and health care, and the number of homeless grew in this country. Hospitals simply emptied their wards. His administration turned its back on domestic issues. He did -- to his credit -- bankrupt the Soviet Union. Was the resultant recession of our economy worth it? I think the jury is still out on that.

Marlene Walmsley from West Vancouver, British Columbia:

My mother was 80 and had a hearing loss. She would not go to have her hearing checked. She was adamant that she would not wear a hearing aid. I told her that Ronald Reagan wore a tiny one, and if he did, why not her? She secretly got one fitted for her and was able to hear very well. She always admired Ronald Reagan, and this did the trick.

Otto Laszlo from Budapest, Hungary:

I am a Hungarian citizen who grew up behind the Iron Curtain. I thank President Ronald Reagan for the fall of the curtain. ... You all can be proud of your president.

David Pearo from Norman, Oklahoma:

I am a police officer in Norman, Oklahoma, and during the Olympic Festival I was selected by the U.S. Secret Service to guard former President Reagan. As I was escorting his car into the stadium, I was at the left rear fender of his car. As he passed, one of our uniformed officers saluted him. To my surprise, the president returned his salute. He never stopped being a great leader.

Tina from El Paso, Texas:

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1984, I had the opportunity to exercise my right to vote. I am proud to say President Reagan was my choice -- my president.

Dan Grubbs from Virginia Beach, Virginia:

I was an enlisted man in the Navy when Reagan became president. I remember that the first new fiscal year under his leadership brought me a significant increase in my pay with similar, but lesser, increases over the next few years, too. I know that before then some servicemen, including a lieutenant commander with a wife and four kids, relied upon food stamps to make ends meet. But then came Reagan, who began to take care of the military instead of taking us for granted. Reagan's tenure also began a transitional period for me in which I became proud of my commander in chief and had confidence in him. God rest his soul.

Charles Robertson from Lake Charles, Louisiana:

There is much discussion about naming the Pentagon or changing the $10 bill to honor Reagan. I think we should name the national debt after him, "The Ronald Reagan National Debt."

Carlo Herrera from Hayward, California:

Great presidents do not bust up labor unions. The words "Honor American Labor" should drape Reagan's casket.

Karen Russell from Blue Ridge, Virginia:

In 1980, when Reagan took office, I was newly married, and we couldn't afford a house due to the high interest rates and inflation. Within two years, because of Reagan's tax cuts and other strategies, we were able to buy a home shortly before our first child was born.

Yvonne Woodson from Gainesville, Florida:

My biggest recollection of Mr. Reagan was that we owe him our homeless problem. He closed down many institutions that had taken care of individuals who couldn't manage, and they ended up on the streets.

Einar Hansen from Quincy, Massachusetts:

I met Mr. Reagan in 1980 before he was elected president. My father was helping to get him votes in upstate New York. Mr. Reagan had just won the New Hampshire primary and everyone knew that we were meeting the next president of the U.S. He came to Syracuse for a fund-raiser in which my father was there to meet and greet him with my mother. My father asked Mr. Reagan to please say hello to my mother or he would not be able to go home that night. Mr. Reagan said to my father, "Just point her out to me and I will shake her hand, and give her a big kiss on the the cheek to boot, so you can go home tonight." And Mr. Reagan did. I will always remember that day and so will my mother.


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