A Fitting Tribute to a True American

It's a pleasure to have the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in the 38th Assembly District.

Recently, I had the honor of being one of only five speakers at the unveiling of the Reagan statue in the state Capitol.  Reagan is the only person to have served as California Governor and President of the United States of America.  A memorial statue honoring Reagan was long overdue.

I'm a huge fan of Ronald Reagan as his life reflects the best ideals of America. He embraced the notion that if you work hard good things will happen!

From humble beginnings Reagan rose from lifeguard, to radio broadcaster, actor, union leader, corporate spokesman, the Governor of California, and the President of the United States of America.

Ronald Reagan's inspirational can-do spirit was made clear by the two plaques he kept on his desk in the oval office: “It can be done” and, “There's no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.”

President Reagan restored America's confidence by turning around the American economy and defeating the Soviet Union.

Reagan is a true American icon and a transformational figure in 20th Century world affairs.

But my connection to Reagan is personal as well.

I first shook Reagan's hand on an airport tarmac when he was campaigning for president during the 1980 GOP presidential primary campaign.

Later that July, I served as a Reagan Youth delegate and I traveled with hundreds of other young people by train from Union Station to Detroit, Michigan for the GOP National Convention.  Our role was to support the convention and I still vividly remember being on the convention floor the evening Reagan accepted the GOP nomination.

In 1992, I was campaign manager for Maureen Reagan's race for Congress.  It was there that I was able to witness the “behind-the-scenes” Reagan that the public never saw.  He struck me as a loving and involved father.

The statue of Reagan, modeled during his time as Governor of California, is housed in the lower rotunda of the State Capitol. 

The sculptor who brought these cold sheets of metal to life is Auburn sculptor Douglas Van Howd. Van Howd was a longtime friend of President Reagan and served as the White House artist during President Reagan's first term.  He worked closely with the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation and the Reagan family in designing the statue.

Reagan's statue was made possible by Assembly Bill 2358, authored by former Assembly Member Curt Hagman. This authorized the creation of a memorial statue of Ronald Reagan to be placed at the State Capitol. Construction of the statue was funded completely through private donations.

At the unveiling ceremony, I had the privilege of speaking alongside former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy John Herrington, San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman and Sculptor Douglas Van Howd at the President Reagan Memorial Statue Ceremony.

President Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign motto was, “it's morning in America” which signified the progress America had made under his leadership and the renewed sense of optimism Americans felt after suffering through a tough recession. 

Speaking at such a monumental event brought back fond memories of my interaction with President Reagan and the impact he left on my life.

Looking back, there's no way I ever could have imagined that I would have been where I am today, honoring one of the most transformative figures in American history. His principles of freedom, individual liberty, and limited government have served as my political compass.

Ronald Reagan was brilliant at tying these three principles together to work across the aisle and appeal to people's character and convictions and to gain consensus to achieve transformative progress. Real change.

And, like very few presidents before or since, he was a gifted communicator who connected with America. He understood this country. He understood its exceptional people. He understood America's important role in the world. And America understood him.

In the months to come, an exact replica of the statue in the Capitol will be installed at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.

Ronald Reagan did more than shake my hand. He changed me, and by his vision and leadership he changed our nation and our world.