What I learned from visiting the Reagan Ranch and how we should honor Ronald Reagan’s life and legacy today, from a conservative millennial’s perspective.
A president who inspired us with his love for America — and our Lord.
Today marks our most popular president’s birthday, born Feb. 6, 1911.
Ronald Reagan loved God and hard work. This could not be more evident in the way he built and preserved his ranch in California, where he spent his sunset years after the presidency.
President Reagan called it his “open cathedral,” where he worked hard building fences, tiling floors and digging a pond he stocked with goldfish. Reagan frequently rode his horses on the dusty trails of his 688-acre sanctuary.
At the highest point 2,240 feet above sea level, where Air Force One would land, Reagan would overlook landscape with the Santa Ynez Valley on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, as he often reflected on Psalm 121:
I will lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
One of Reagan’s friends said that when he was up there he was talking and walking with God.
That’s my greatest takeaway from the Reagan Ranch — President Reagan built the ranch so he could be closest to God. Though the Gipper is gone, his character can be felt at the ranch — his humility and his humor lives on.
From his humble childhood in Illoinois, crediting his mom with planting a seed of faith in him, to his acting years in Hollywood, Reagan had seen it all.
And that’s one of the reasons Reagan connects with the average person—you and me. He’d been through a lot, had many changes—I mean he spent the first half of his life as a Democrat. Personally, I connect with him on many levels. I grew up on a horse farm, so I fell in love with the ranch, but I also loved how much he valued his time with God and getting into the presence of God, something my mom also instilled in me.
This was a place for retreat, but he also brought the world into his humble abode. He spent so much time at the ranch during his presidency it became known as the Western White House. He signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 at the ranch and hosted British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Oh, how I wish I could’ve been there for those visits!
Leaving the Great Communicator’s sanctuary, I was left speechless. Think about it, the leader of the free world, so humble and aware of God’s presence, gave us so many things, but the greatest was his love for God, for others and for country.
Of all the modern presidents, I believe Reagan most closely resembled the precedent George Washington set forth when he rejected the title of king, gave himself a limit to his time in office, and fervently sought the blessings of God for our country.
Today, every candidate on both sides of the aisle wants to be the next Ronald Reagan, or at least embody his character, from Ted Cruz to Hillary Clinton.
Although he is gone, Ronald Reagan is not forgotton. We remember him in so many ways — from his influence as a young man to his sunset years at the ranch—he lived a life worth of studying and honoring.
I look forward to the many ways we can continue to honor the Gipper—one being the upcoming biopic about our 40th president featuring David Henrie.
His humility, hard work and humor live on, thanks in large part to the Young America’s Foundation, inspiring so many young Americans like myself to honestly remember the life and legacy of Reagan and restore America to the “shining city on a hill” that Reagan spoke of.
P.S. Thank you to Caroline and the Young America’s Foundation for sharing the ranch with Todd Starnes and me. (Caroline is the daughter of Cindy, one of my favorite Liberty Belles!) Also, a huge thanks to my favorite professor and Reagan scholar, Dr. Paul Kengor, of Grove City College, for letting me help him research for his book, 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative, which I highly recommend!
How will you remember and honor Reagan’s life and legacy?