Coverage of Reagan's Death Is an Indication of Respect of His Time

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 10, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Coverage of Reagan's Death Is an Indication of Respect of His Time


Byline: Jim Slusher

Former President Ronald Reagan died Saturday. The news dominated the front section of Sunday's paper, and events and issues related to his remembrance have made Page 1 every day since. With the national day of remembrance and burial on Friday, the front-page attention surely will continue through at least Saturday.

An entire week of Page 1 prominence. Few stories have such staying power.

I can't imagine anyone disputing the initial play, but now, five days since the former president's death, some readers may be forgiven who shrug their shoulders and wonder, enough already.

But it is a measure of Reagan's influence and prominence that his death has properly attracted such attention. The nature of his illness has kept him out of the public eye for nearly a decade, but his passing reminds us that no president since John F. Kennedy has made such a lasting and deep impression on the nation.

It is a measure of our society - and an admirable one, I say - that we tend to venerate the newly dead. Even the most controversial figures - consider Richard Nixon, for example - are generally remembered upon their passing for their positive contributions more than for the negative side of their lives.

So, this is not the time to expect an acutely balanced reflection on any leader's life; it will require the distance of history to provide that. But to the degree we can faithfully examine them, this is a time to remember the important events of a great leader's career, and to chronicle the reaction of the nation and world as they remember.

In Reagan's case, there is much to chronicle, not merely related to his accomplishments as a political leader but also - and perhaps more so - in the way the nation is paying its respects to his memory. Everyday people are traveling long distances and standing in lines 10 hours long for the opportunity to glimpse his flag- draped coffin.

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