Ronald Reagan was born on Feb. 6, 1911, in the front bedroom of an apartment above a bakery on the block-long business district of Tampico, a farming town on the prairie in northwestern Illinois. Reagan was the only president born and raised in Illinois, and the last delivered at home. He grew up in Dixon, serving as a lifeguard on the Rock River, and went to college at Eureka, where he became a BMOC by leading a walkout against budget cuts, forcing the hapless president’s resignation.
Although he left Illinois, it never left him: even after a career in Hollywood, Reagan remained convinced that a small Midwestern town in the 1920s provided the perfect model for American life.
Kirk recorded the message for a Republican Party wesbite celebrating Reagan’s 100th, using the opportunity to compare the current Illinois president to Reagan’s nemesis, Jimmy Carter.
“In the 1970s, our country faced a stagnant economy, high unemployment and crises abroad,” Kirk says in the video. “Some say America was a declining power whose best days were behind us. Sound familiar? Ronald Reagan taught us that we were not living in the wrong country, we just had some of the wrong leaders…Given the tough times Reagan mastered, and the tough times we face, there is much to draw inspiration from the Reagan legacy.”
The Republican Party still pines for its departed leader, awaiting the Next Reagan like premillenialists anticipating the second coming. Reagan Nostalgia has prevented the party from adapting to the 21st Century, but let’s not begrudge them the centennial of their savior.
Illinois has Reagan events all month. Tampico is too small for the Feb. 4 Centennial Gala, so it will take place at a country club in nearby Deer Grove, with Newt Gingrich as the keynote speaker. The village will throw a birthday party two days later. Dixon’s big centennial moment is Feb. 19, when the Dixon Municipal Band premieres “Reagan of Illinois,” by David Holsinger.
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