Evil Empire? You Bet.
Natan Sharansky (né Anatoly Shcharansky), the Soviet dissident turned Israeli official, tells a story of Reagan in today's
In 1983, I was confined to an eight-by-ten-foot prison cell on the border of Siberia. My Soviet jailers gave me the privilege
of reading the latest copy of Pravda. Splashed across the front page was a condemnation of President Ronald Reagan for having
the temerity to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire." Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan's "provocation"
quickly spread throughout the prison. We dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth--a
truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.
Let's remember that Reagan took a lot of flak for that statement--from many of the same people who now criticize President
Bush for, among other things, identifying the axis of evil. In 1983 they agreed with Pravda rather than Sharansky. Apparently
they are condemned to repeat history.
'He Is a Very Famous Man'
Ronald Reagan made no public appearances during the last decade of his life, but in November 1997 the New York Times published
an article that provided a glimpse into his twilight years and the toll Alzheimer's disease was taking. We managed to find
a copy on the Web site of the Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass., and here are two anecdotes that stuck with us all these
In February 1996, George Shultz went to visit his old boss, Ronald Reagan, at the former president's home in the Bel Air
neighborhood of Los Angeles. He drank tea with Reagan and his wife, Nancy, and talked a little politics. In all, he stayed
perhaps an hour.
That night Shultz, the former secretary of state, received a call from Mrs. Reagan, who told him that "something poignant
happened today that you would like to know about."
At one point in the visit, Reagan had left the room briefly with a nurse. When they came back, Mrs. Reagan went on, "he
said to the nurse: 'Who is that man sitting with Nancy on the couch? I know him. He is a very famous man.' " . . .
This summer, walking in Armand Hammer Park near his home, Reagan was approached by an elderly tourist and his 12-year-old
grandson, Ukrainian emigres now living near Toledo, Ohio. They spoke with him for a moment, and the grandfather snapped a
picture of the boy sitting with the former president. An article about the encounter, and the picture, appeared first in The
Toledo Blade and then in newspapers around the country.
The other day, the grandfather, Yakob Ravin, recalled their meeting.
"We went to the park, for a picnic, with our friends," he said. "And then we saw President Reagan. And we began to cheer
him, and said, 'Mr. President, thank you for everything you did for the Jewish people, for Soviet people, to destroy the communist
"And he said, 'Yes, that is my job.' "
|The Deck of Reagan