Published March 8, 2016
Whatever your political views may be, whether you voted for him or not, when it comes to the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan everybody agrees theirs is an amazing love story.
When they first met, there was there was chemistry and a strong attraction and something Mrs. Reagan described as being as close to love at first sight as can be, and that they completed each other.
Beyond that point, however, they remained in love sharing an almost-perfect marriage that lasted 52 years. No one who is close to them – especially their friends and children – would argue otherwise. In an era where the latest Hollywood divorce becomes instant gossip, a relationship like the Reagans experienced and the feelings they had for one another is to be admired. For those who say such a marriage is incredibly rare and impossible to find today, it may be unsettling to observe.
The President wrote Nancy letters using some of the most beautiful words that can be expressed by a man toward a woman he loves. Apparently, there is something to be said for the pre-e-mail age. Tributes describe Nancy Reagan as devoted, dedicated, doting, protective, her husband’s most trusted advisor and totally committed to him. They spoke to each other almost every day, never wanting to spend a day apart. This all may sound very old fashioned today. But it sure did work for the President and Nancy Reagan.
When the President was shot in 1981, Nancy was terrified at the prospect of losing him. When the President was shot in 1981, Nancy was terrified at the prospect of losing him. She stayed close by him after the shooting for the remainder of his presidency, very concerned and fearing for his safety. Following his eight-year term in office, President Reagan suffered the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and Nancy cared for and nurtured him for the rest of his life. These are the reasons their love was real and lasted as long as it did.
Nancy Reagan accomplished an amazing legacy as First Lady. She will, of course, be remembered for her “Just Say No” campaign against alcohol and drugs among young people, her battle with breast cancer and survival, her inspiration for women undergoing breast cancer treatment, and that she was adviser to President Reagan and his guiding influence while he was in office. Her greatest legacy is, as son Ron Reagan stated in an interview after her death, that she really knew how to love somebody. The Reagan love story is what will be remembered.
Finally, President and Nancy Reagan inspire optimism toward an institution long thought anachronistic: Traditional marriage. No matter whom the couple, it always comes down to trust, commitment and devotion.
Finally, the Reagan love story is a role model for any couples wondering what it takes to make a love relationship endure and work. Maybe it is not the feminist creed for a woman to “stand by her man” as Nancy chose to do, and it need not be. What is important is that such love and devotion is possible when both people agree to commit to each other for the long term. The brief initial spark that ignites new love would never sustain 52 years. That gives all lovers out there something positive to think about, doesn’t it?
During the Reagan presidency, the press chose to create whatever negatives they could about Nancy Reagan, creating a false public image about her that was outright hostile at times. They failed to acknowledge her graciousness, her class and the fact that she was faithful to her husband in sickness and in health, no matter what.
Nancy Reagan, R.I.P.
Copyright 2016 by Bonnie Chernin. All Rights Reserved.