Happy 100th Birthday Ronald Wilson Reagan! Your achievements will forever be emblazons upon this great country that you loved. Thank you!!!
(Star Telegram) WASHINGTON -- Ronald Reagan admirers wanted to go all out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 40th U.S. president's birth on Feb. 6 -- a fighter jet flyover, a 21-gun salute and a Beach Boys performance are among the commemorations. But the Great Communicator's centennial birthday conflicts with another great American megaevent: Super Bowl Sunday.
Yet Reaganites, true to the Gipper's attitude, saw an opportunity.
Just before kickoff, a tribute to Reagan will be displayed on the Jumbotron at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, perhaps fitting for this larger-than-life persona.
It's one of the scores of centennial events planned through the year for Reagan -- from his birthplace in Tampico, Ill., to his final resting place in Simi Valley, Calif. -- in a celebration that has taken on greater significance after Republican gains in Congress.
Although many events are being organized by or with help of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, activities large and small are being planned by others, including GOP clubs, former Reagan aides and admirers.
In Valparaiso, Ind., Chuck Williams, a Board of Public Works member and former county GOP chairman, was so fond of the former president that he named his daughter Reagan. Now he's seeking to name a street in town after him.
"He was an inspirational president," Williams said. "We've got Roosevelt Road. We've got Garfield Boulevard. We've got Lincoln Way." Why not Ronald Reagan Parkway? he asked.
Congress created a bipartisan Reagan Centennial Commission to help plan events, but no federal funding was provided. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., didn't believe that such spending would be very Reagan-like. Instead, many celebrations are privately funded.
"The centennial celebration is about more than just one day and one man," said John Heubusch, the Reagan foundation's executive director. "It's a yearlong historic occasion for people to remember an extraordinary man who restored pride in America and spread freedom throughout the world."
Reagan's wife, Nancy, 89, is expected to attend many events.
Reagan's boyhood home of Dixon, Ill., will premiere a 25-minute musical composition, Reagan of Illinois.