Reagan: Teach kids respect for vets

Published 12:37 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

Did you and your family celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall on Tuesday?

Didn’t think so, but it’s not necessarily your fault.

“The Fall of the Wall” was a geopolitical earthquake in 1989.

As any child of the Cold War knows, it signaled the beginning of the end of the evil Soviet Empire and led to the liberation of millions of Germans, Poles, Czechs and others who’d been held captive under communism for almost half a century.

The fall of the Wall 32 years ago — the symbol of the collapse of communism — doesn’t get much attention these days.

I didn’t see a word in the media this week marking its anniversary and I’m sure it was never mentioned in our sorry public schools.

Of course, our schools don’t teach our history anymore.

They push politically trendy crap like Critical Race Theory and tell our kids how bad America is, or was.

They sure don’t educate our children about the importance of preserving and expanding our hard-won and fragile freedoms.

In 1967, when my father was elected governor of California, he talked in his inaugural address about how important it is for each new generation to protect and refresh the freedom they’ve inherited.

“Perhaps you and I have lived too long with this miracle to properly be appreciative. Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

It seems pretty obvious today that our generation is not fighting hard enough to defend our freedom — or even define it for our kids.

When I speak about freedom to 250 college students at the Reagan Ranch Center in downtown Santa Barbara, Calif., I’m going to tell them what I told 150 high school kids at the center earlier this week.

I’m going to take them back to Aug. 12, 1961, and tell them the story I like to tell about the young boy in Berlin who went to dinner at his cousin’s house across town.

He decided to stay overnight at his cousin’s when it became too late to return home and when he woke up the next morning the border between East and West Berlin had been closed and the Wall was going up.

That young boy didn’t get home again until Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down.

Think about that. If you lived in East Germany at that time, or anywhere in the Eastern Bloc, and you’re 32 years old today, you’ve only been free for that long.

We Americans are lucky. We were born into freedom. But we need to remember to fully honor those men and women who risked or lost their lives to keep us free — every day of the year.

We need to remember the World War II veterans who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. And the vets who fought and died in the jungles of Vietnam and those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But since we can’t depend on schools to teach our kids about the value of our veterans or how and where they fought and died to defend our freedom, it’s up to parents.

When I was writing this column on Wednesday, my son Cameron called and said he was going to take my two young granddaughters to a military cemetery on Veterans Day.

Then, he said he planned to take them to the annual Veterans Day events at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where all branches of our military are honored with ceremonies and military bands.

My son is doing it right. It’s up to fathers like him to teach our kids to honor vets at a very young age — the same way my dad taught me.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to reagan@caglecartoons.com.