Farewell Nancy Reagan
March 11, 2016
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The world mourned when the passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan was made known this past Saturday. The wife of this country’s 40th president, Ronald Reagan, died at the age of 94, and people all over the country have poured in from across the world to give a moment of silence to an extraordinary woman who inspired many people.
She has left behind an image of a strong woman and one of the most known First Ladies, famous for her fashion image and an active spokesperson for the Republican Party until the day she died.
Even before becoming First Lady, Mrs. Reagan always presented herself as a strong, beautiful, independent woman and that shined through her sense of fashion and throughout the White House. Sometimes her sense of style in the White House was mocked, but it showed how special she was as a person.
Mrs. Reagan was 60 years old when she moved into the White House, but that didn’t stop her from being fashionable and bringing in her spunk. She was genuinely thrilled by fashion, something that showed off her personality. She brought back some fun to the White House that seemed to have been lost.
“She always looked so elegant, even before her days as a First Lady,” Lexi Bone ‘17 said. “She definitely represented herself as a lady should, and I think she’s a great role model for all women to look up to.”
One of her most famous and well-known phrases was, “Just Say No,” a simple phrase that impacted the world more than she ever thought it would. Mrs. Reagan noticed the drug problem in America when she realized many of her friends’ children were using drugs.
On October 11, 1982, she attended the National Conference of the National Federation for Drug-Free Youth. According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, her meeting with some schoolchildren inspired her foundation.
“A little girl raised her hand,” Mrs. Reagan recalled, “and said, ‘Mrs. Reagan, what do you do if somebody offers you drugs?’ And I said, ’Well, you just say no.’ And there it was born.”
These simple three words caught on and eventually turned into her foundation, school clubs, and anti-drug programs. The organization stated that by 1988, there were more than 12,000 “Just Say No” clubs formed around the world.
She ended up traveling around the world to 65 cities, 33 states, and eight foreign countries to give speeches to spread the word about her campaign. The fruits of her actions and activism were evident. Cocaine use by high school seniors decreased from 6.2 percent in 1986 to 4.3 percent in 1987.
“She’s very inspiring to me, especially because many people in my family have struggled with drug use,” Chad Dea ‘17 said. “Thanks to her it’s become clear how much drugs can take effect in young people’s lives, and I think many kids have realized that.”
The final, and most painful, role she played was the great wife and caretaker as her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She became a warrior in a genuinely terrifying battle as she watched her husband forget who he was and where he came from. It was this that pushed Alzheimer’s research so far.
The fear surrounding the disease has slowly disappeared, and people who are diagnosed are telling their life stories while they can.
Nancy Reagan said, “To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can’t see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life.”
Her casket has been open since her death, and her private funeral takes place today, March 11, where Nancy and her “Ronnie” will once again be reunited on the hilltop of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Nancy Reagan will forever shine in the light of this country, and the nation will forever be grateful and remember this astonishing First Lady who loved, guided, and supported one of the most exceptional presidents in history. Rest in peace, Nancy Reagan.