by Carla Bream
The Virginia Transportation Museum was the setting last Saturday night for the Salute To Ronald Reagan Dinner, sponsored by the Roanoke City Republican Committee. Chairman Jim DeLong was coordinator for this year’s event, celebrating the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan.
This reception and dinner were billed as “family friendly” with BBQ on the buffet and a slide show of Reagan’s famous speeches to entertain the crowd during dinner amongst the antique cars. Each place setting featured a pansy in a pot with a sticker that read, “I miss Reagan.”
The keynote speaker was former Governor and Senator George Allen, who accompanied his wife Susan. He said our country was coming back to our foundational principles and he spoke of the concepts of freedom and personal responsibility and opportunity for all. “In recent years all we have been getting from Washington are dictates, mandates and redistribution, and that is why we need to turn this country around now.”
Allen said that he first met Reagan when the Allen family moved to California after his dad became the head coach of the LA Rams. After Reagan was elected Governor of California, he would come to the Ram’s practices and Allen thought, “Gosh, here is a politician that really knows what is important.”
After Allen’s father took the head coaching job for the Washington Redskins, the family moved back to Virginia and Allen attended UVA. While there in 1975, Governor Reagan decided to run against President Ford for the Republican nomination and asked Allen if he would be chairman of the “Young Virginians For Reagan.” At that time, Allen was not involved with politics and told Reagan he would take the job but he “didn’t really know what to do.” He said Reagan told him, “I hear you go around telling people that you like me – so just keep doing that.” So he did.
In 1979, Allen injured his knee during a spring football game and was sent to the hospital. Reagan called the hospital at UVA, just to cheer him up. Allen said, “After that, the nurses took real good care of me.” Allen said Reagan was the type of man that tried to help people and that he never minced his words. Perhaps the greatest example being when he told Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” Allen stated, “Because of Ronald Reagan, there are hundreds of thousands of people who can now taste the sweet nectar of liberty.”
In closing, Allen said we should all remember the applicability of Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1981 when he said, “Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.”