During his two terms as the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan kept a diary where he recorded, by hand, his innermost thoughts and remarks on the extraordinary, historic and day-to-day events of his time in office.
The Reagan Diaries provide a striking insight into one of this nation’s most important presidencies and sheds new light on the character of a true American leader. Whether he was in his White House residence, his study or aboard Air Force One, each night Reagan wrote about the events of his day. Often, that included his relationships with other world leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, Mohammar al-Qaddafi, and Margaret Thatcher. He also penned the remarkable events that defined that era…from his first inauguration to the end of the Cold War, and from the Iran hostage crisis to John Hinckley’s assassination attempt on his life.
Reagan’s personal thoughts were kept in 8 X 11 inch maroon leather books. The president was disciplined in keeping them current. His writing style was clear and concise, sometimes using abbreviations. He often referred to Democrats as “Dems,” for example.
“The diaries are amazingly composed, clear and chronological. They show a man, a chief executive, with an extraordinary degree of objectivity. There’s very little vanity or self-importance in these diaries.
From a historical perspective, when Reagan took office, the Soviet Union was sensing the risk of war. By the time he left office, the threat of nuclear war was becoming a memory, as the Cold War was coming to an end.
Domestically, Reagan left a strong legacy. He led to a resurgent belief in the power of the individual, competition in business, and private initiative to solve domestic problems. Such successes were no accident; Reagan worked hard. His executive ability along with his tireless work habits are well defined throughout his diary.”
Various Diary Quotes:
Fri. March 13:
“The Rev. Jesse Jackson announces he’s staging a march on Wash. Mon. demanding help for Atlanta in this 19 month tragedy of the murders of black children which has so far numbered 20 with 1 missing. Atlanta has a financial problem due to $100,000 a month overtime for police. What Jesse apparently doesn’t know is that we’ve already given Atlanta about $1 mil. and have roughly 40 F.B.I. agents in there on the case. Today I went to the press briefing room and read a statement detailing this & then announced we were giving another $1 1/2 mil. & that V.P. G. Bush was going personally to Atlanta.”
Wed. Feb. 11:
“Intelligence reports say he Castro is very worried about me. I’m very worried that we can’t come up with something to justify his worrying.”
Tues. Jan. 27:
“Ceremony on S. Lawn to welcome hostages home. Thousands of people in attendance. Met the familys earlier. Now we had in addition the familys of the 8 men who lost their lives in the rescue attempt. One couple lost their only son. His widow was also here. I’ve had a lump in my throat all day.”
ZDT Author’s Notes:
Of course, being the President of the U.S. grants a legitimacy and audience that few will ever enjoy as a writer or author. But, Reagan’s consistency, honesty, candid delivery, bravery and willingness to share with the world such insightful information and sensitive thought is unparalleled.
I would hope (personally) that his example with these diaries and entries will serve as a lofty standard for those of us who are attempting to share our stories (via blogs) on a world stage (WWW) with the hope that we can influence our audiences in some small but lasting fashion.
The question remains: “When is a Blog a Diary?