Today, February 6, 2011 marks the centennial of the birth of Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States and by most historical opinions a transformational figure in American history. The number of truly transformational presidents can be counted on one hand; Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan. These men all practiced reconstructive and transformational politics that lead the country away from stagnant and ineffective leadership. One can quibble over the politics of the men, but the fact that they were leaders as opposed to the status-quo, and sent the country on a different path to the future is a testament to their vision and leadership style.
I often tell my American History 1945-to-the Present, students that as opposed to using secondary sources to study a subject; as one would when looking back into the decades preceding World War II, that I stand before them as a primary source, since I have first-hand experienced much of the history we would be studying. This is the case with Ronald Reagan.
My first introduction to Reagan was unrelated to politics as I would be allowed to watch the General Electric Theater, which Reagan hosted, on Sunday evenings whenever there was school holiday on Mondays. Later, in my teens, he was a familiar figure with a cowboy hat that hosted Death Valley Days. Reagan made no impact on me in those early years and it was not until November of 1968 that I was introduced to his leadership style.