Monday, December 17, 2012

A tale of two cities: Dixon celebrates its Reagan heritage

Reagan's boyhood home, Dixon
Writing in the American Spectator, Paul Kengor juxtaposes Chicago with the town Ronald Reagan said was his hometown, Dixon, Illinois. Regular readers of this blog are aware that the University of Chicago wants to tear down the only Chicago home of our 40th president.
It is fitting that this action would take place at the hands of the university community, and in the city of Chicago. Among Chicago's many dubious political distinctions, the American Communist Party was founded there in September 1919 — just down the street, at 1219 Blue Island Avenue. Once upon a time, Communist Party USA was virtually destroyed by Ronald Reagan; now it is confident and resurgent, inspired and glorying in Barack Obama's reelection (click here).

As Chicago's communists literally reported their achievement to the Soviet Comintern — “Hail to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!” they crowed, "Long live the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic! Long live the World Revolution!" — Ronald Reagan and his family got out of dodge, en route to Dixon, Illinois. And it was in Dixon (not Chicago) where the young Reagan was molded into the man he became, and where he is duly appreciated today.

In Dixon, Reagan encountered not brooding American Bolsheviks but good patriotic Americans like the Cleaver family, the Waggoners, Lloyd "Brownie" Emmert, and the folks who ran the local YMCA and the First Christian Church on S. Hennepin Avenue. He would later refer to his time in Dixon as his "inheritance." The people there created in him "a kind of inheritance without which I'd be lost and helpless," said Reagan years later.

Reagan claimed Dixon and its people claimed him, happily and proudly to this day. Today in Dixon, there is no shortage of Reagan preservation projects by the locals. There's the school he attended. There's the basketball court where he played. There's the Rock River at Lowell Park, where he lifeguarded. There's the church where he was baptized, which even includes the original baptismal tank where he was dunked (by total immersion) in June 1922. There's the Reagan Trail. And, of course, there's the Boyhood Home — eagerly, enthusiastically preserved.
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