No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, I think everyone can agree that President Reagan was a great encourager who left a lasting legacy of patriotism in the United States of America. I will never forget the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of actually meeting him.
President Reagan has always been my husband’s hero. As a young teen, Dave volunteered in Illinois for Reagan’s Presidential Campaign. In honor of his hero, Dave and I named our oldest daughter, Melissa Reagan McSweeney. When Melissa was two months old, Dave and I flew from New York to California to briefly meet with former President Reagan for a photo opportunity. As a new mom, I was nervous about the long trip and about meeting a U.S. President. However, President Reagan immediately put me at ease with his gracious demeanor. He apologized for not being in a suit to greet us, but he was scheduled for a round of golf.
President Reagan was genuinely pleased to meet Melissa, and my sweet baby didn’t even squirm or cry. Sitting behind his desk, President Reagan signed Melissa’s baby book! He commented, “I must date this to make it an official document. President Reagan showed Dave and me the photos lining his bookshelves and reminisced about horseback riding alongside Queen Elizabeth. His eyes sparkled whenever he spoke about his wife, Nancy. President Reagan enjoyed speaking with Dave about world events and even invited us to sit down on a sofa for an extended visit. An aide entered the room to remind him of his schedule, but President Reagan remained seated and continued to share his childhood stories about growing up in Illinois. Pleased that both he and Dave had grown up in the Land of Lincoln, President Reagan reminisced about being a lifeguard in Dixon. After this incredible meeting, President Reagan walked us outside his office and gently touched Melissa’s cheek. “Goodbye, my little baby,” the 40th President said with a smile.
This life moment will be what I recall and treasure on President Reagan’s 100th birthday..