Christmas Words From a Legendary President
Surrounded as we are today with endless calls from the left to strip Christmas of everything but its secular symbols – and sometimes even them – it’s inevitable that the greatest of holidays should be mixed with a certain amount of nostalgia and malaise. Though the vast majority of Americans still believe in “Merry Christmas,” nativity scenes, and the birth that gave meaning to the holiday, it sometimes seems as though we are only a few years away from losing the last connections between Christmas and Christ.
At a time like this, it may feel better to cast our minds backwards. Ronald Reagan brought the theories of Barry Goldwater into the mainstream, shedding his history as a middle-of-the-road Hollywood actor to become a powerful voice for conservative thought. He brought honor back to both the White House and the Republican Party, and he continues to inspire a generation of Americans who believe this country is more than just another piece of land.
In 1983, Reagan spoke of the time having passed from an historic day in a little town called Bethlehem. “Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone. And today [Jesus] is the centerpiece of much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon Earth as powerfully as this one solitary life.
“I have always believed that the message of Jesus is one of hope and joy,” Reagan continued. “I know there are those who recognize Christmas Day as the birthday of a great and good man, a wise teacher who gave us principles to live by. And then there are others of us who believe that he was the Son of God, that he was divine. If we live our lives for truth, for love, and for God, we never need be afraid. God will be with us, and He will be part of something much larger, much more powerful and enduring than any force here on Earth.”
In two short paragraphs, Reagan bridged the gap between the believer and the nonbeliever, the atheist, the Christian, and people of all faiths. Not only do his words echo with the meaning of Christmas, but they demonstrate why he was seen as the Great Communicator. Reagan wasn’t just the president for a couple of special interest groups. He wasn’t just the president of a particular race or creed or political party. He was the president of the United States, and his mission in that role was to help us maximize our potential.
But even a great president like Reagan must take a backseat to the infant born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. There may come a time when all remaining remnants of our country’s Christian heritage have disappeared, but there are those of us who will never forget that we are God’s country first and foremost. These are dark times, surely, but His followers have faced worse. American spirit – true American spirit – will not go quietly into the night.