|Reagan Peace Garden|
"Even now I wonder," the C student continued, "what I might have accomplished if I'd studied harder."
But it wasn't all laughs at his Eureka address
|From the Eureka Reagan Museum|
In '82 Reagan was hoping to meet the ailing leader of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, who passed away later that year. "I'll tell him that his government and his people have nothing to fear from the United States, Reagan told the graduates. "The free nations living at peace in the world community can vouch for the fact that we seek only harmony. And I'll ask President Brezhnev why our two nations can't practice mutual restraint. Why can't our peoples enjoy the benefits that would flow from real cooperation? Why can't we reduce the number of horrendous weapons? "
|On the Reagan Trail,|
Two posts back in this series I devoted an entry to Carl Sandburg. Reagan lived briefly in Galesburg, Sandburg's hometown. "In our 1931 Prism [Eureka's yearbook], we quoted Carl Sandburg, who in his own beautiful way quoted the Mother Prairie, saying, 'Have you seen a red sunset drip over one of my cornfields, the shore of night stars, the wave lines of dawn up a wheat valley?' What an idyllic scene that paints in our minds — and what a nightmarish prospect that a huge mushroom cloud might someday destroy such beauty. "My duty as president." Reagan vowed, "is to ensure that the ultimate nightmare never occurs, that the prairies and the cities and the people who inhabit them remain free and untouched by nuclear conflict."
Brezhnev never made it to Eureka, but Mikhail Gorbachev visited in 2009, as you'll in a Peoria Journal Star video.
Eureka is Greek for "I have found it." Gorbachev asked the school's president if it was the original name for the school, when told it was, he replied, "It's a good name for a college." The last Soviet leader paid his respects at the Reagan Peace Garden, which includes a segment of the Berlin Wall. In 1987, Reagan famously declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
|Section of the Berlin Wall,|
Reagan Peace Garden
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