On March 30, 1981, only 69 days after U.S. President Reagan took office for his first term, he was shot by a gunman. Out of 45 U.S. presidents, nine have been the targets of assassination. Four of the presidents died, while five survived the attempts on their lives. Ronald Reagan was among them.
Reagan took office a few years after the Vietnam War when the United States suffered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Reaganomics successfully pulled the United States out of the predicament after implementing a series of economic policies at the end of 1982.
In August 1983, the U.S. Industrial Production Index rose for nine consecutive months and was very close to the pre-crisis height. GDP grew by 4.5 percent that year, and the economic growth level in several quarters was as high as 8 percent. Reagan added a total of 3.5 million jobs in 1983, and this trend continued into the 1984 U.S. presidential election year.
In the vote for The Greatest American, a four-part American television series hosted by Matt Lauer in 2005, Ronald Reagan surpassed Abraham Lincoln and George Washington to top the list, highlighting him as the most revered president in the eyes of the American people.
Reagan’s U.S. economy policies accompanied by his foreign policies directly impacted the collapse of the Soviet Union. Reagan always held firm anti-communist beliefs, and stated that the Soviet Union “runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens.” Therefore, he spared no effort to resolutely oppose the communists and believed that communism would eventually collapse.
In 1983, Reagan announced a Strategic Defense Initiative for anti-ballistic missiles, the “Star Wars Project,” which directly dragged the Soviet Union into the bottomless pit of space competition.
Reagan firmly believed in the value and power of freedom. In two campaigns and many speeches, he said: “The march of freedom and democracy… will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history.” He believed that “Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.” He also took the lead in calling the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire” and the “Evil Center of the Modern World.”
Under Reagan’s aggressive anti-communist policy, communism was subject to unprecedented constraints, and the Berlin Wall, which symbolized the separation of the democratic world from the communist camp, was also demolished before the end of his eight-year term, thus dissolving the Cold War.
Reagan grew from a nobody raised in a low-income family to become a hero in the American people’s eyes. His influence on a generation of Americans not only because of his attractive looks and eloquence, but also his remarkable leadership and charisma.
Reagan was the most devout Christian among all American presidents. His faith gave him extraordinary wisdom, humility, and nobility. Although his assassination occurred just 69 days after the inauguration, Reagan believed that he had a God-given mission. Pope Paul II and Mother Teresa also told him that God wanted him to achieve the mission, defeat the Soviet Communist Empire, and end the Cold War.
Translated by Joseph Wu and edited by Helen