James Phillips e-mails to offer some advice on remembering Reagan:
I saw your post this morning about getting back in touch with Ronald Reagan. If you haven't read it, I recommend Peter Robinson's "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life". I thought it would be some clichéd guide for teenagers, but it is a wonderful book.
I also recommend doing what I did this weekend. Took my computer outside to do some work on, poured myself a beer (Young's Double Chocolate Stout), a few cigars, and listened to Reagan's speeches from the 5 CD "Speaking My Mind." It was refreshing, funny, and at times surreal. "A Time For Choosing", his memorable 1964 speech for Goldwater, still holds up today. One D-Day speech was particularly moving, not only by its nature, but because it was from the 40th anniversary, yesterday being the 60th. And of course, the speeches on national defense and the Cold War could be given today, and should be. Listen to any one of them, think of Reagan's opposition in the 1980's, and you'll see that the Left has not changed a bit, only grown more vitriolic.
Right now I am reading "Recollections of Reagan", a short book of short comments about Reagan. Two of my favorites. George H.W. Bush tells about how Reagan used to feed the squirrels outside the oval office. The Veep told him that his dogs Millie and Ranger liked to chase the squirrels, and when they caught them, they finished them (aside: no catch and release for Republican dogs!). Bush said that when he became President shortly thereafter, Reagan had made up a little sign and left it where he used to feed the squirrels: "Beware of Dogs." And Lee Edwards tells of writing a biography of Reagan, that was updated in 1981 up to, and including the assassination attempt. The book had a bright big yellow slash across the front advertising this last point (which the author said was probably in poor taste). When he presented Reagan with a copy, Reagan looked down at it and said "sorry I ruined the ending for you."
Someone on NRO's The Corner this weekend said that Reagan's death should not necessarily be a time of mourning, but a time of reminiscing. An Irish Wake. That sounds about right.
Robinson's book is on my Amazon Wish List along with Peter Schweizer's Reagan's War : The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism. I have a feeling that this summer a lot of people are going to catching up on their reading of Reagan related works.