Ronald Reagan Day in California was marked Saturday by a ceremony at the presidential library in Simi Valley that included the unveiling of the designs of the Ronald Reagan Presidential $1 Coin and Nancy Reagan First Spouse Coin.
The ceremony on the 105th anniversary of Reagan's birth included live musical entertainment performed by the Camp Pendleton Marine Division Band and a flyover by the Tiger Squadron, a formation flying squad that primarily uses the Chinese-built Nanchang CJ6A and Soviet-built Yak 52.
The program began at midday with music conducted by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Edward D. Banta, the commanding general at Camp Pendleton. The ceremony included speeches by Banta and Marlin Fitzwater, the assistant to the president for press relations during the final two years of Reagan's presidency, the placing of an official White House wreath on Reagan's grave site and a 21-gun salute.
U.S. & World
The Ronald Reagan Presidential $1 Coin and Nancy Reagan First Spouse Coin will begin being sold by the U.S. Mint this year. A nearly 11-foot statue of Reagan astride his favorite horse, El Alamein, also was unveiled.
A bill signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010 designates each Feb. 6 as Ronald Reagan Day, a day of "special significance," when all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to conduct exercises remembering Reagan's life recognizing his accomplishments and familiarize students with the contributions he made to the state.
"It's important for Californians to have an appreciation for some of the leadership and heritage we have," said State Board of Equalization member George Runner, who as a state senator introduced the bill designating Feb. 6 as Ronald Reagan Day. "Ronald Reagan, as a Hollywood figure, governor and president is very important for folks to have an appreciation and knowledge of."
In his proclamation declaring today as Ronald Reagan Day, Gov. Jerry Brown, who succeeded Reagan as governor in 1975, wrote, "From his humble Midwestern origins, through a successful career in Hollywood, and on to the highest offices in his state and country, Ronald Reagan lived the California dream.
"On this 105th anniversary of his birth, we remember not only his most celebrated achievements -- his successful diplomacy with Mikhail Gorbachev and the economic recovery that occurred under his presidency -- we also remember the turbulent years of his governorship, during which he proved his ability to manage the affairs of the state, and earlier, the talent and the skill he brought to his work in one of our state's most renowned and beloved industries.
"Above all, we remember the man: his irresistible optimism, faith, and good humor."
Brown recommended that to honor Reagan, Californians should "give as generously as they can to the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute." The institute was established by the Reagans in 1995 to "accelerate information exchange among researchers." The affiliate of the National Alzheimer's Association is credited with largely introducing the biological segment of research into the disease.
Reagan revealed in 1994 that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Born Feb. 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, and raised in nearby Dixon, Reagan graduated from Eureka College in Illinois in 1932. He became a sportscaster that year with the Davenport, Iowa radio station WOC, later getting a similar position with the Des Moines, Iowa-based 50,000-watt clear channel station WHO.
In the midst of a trip to Santa Catalina Island to broadcast the Chicago Cubs spring training in 1937, Reagan got a screen test with Warner Bros. and received a seven-year contract that began a career in which he would appear in 53 films through 1964. He was elected to the first of two terms as governor in 1966 and president in 1980. He died in 2004 at the age of 93.
"Ronald Reagan created a great deal of inspiration for America," Runner told City News Service.