Reagan legacy lives on
By Seth Brandle | Contributor
The country this week mourned the loss of a beloved national icon, former first lady Nancy Davis Reagan. She passed away last Sunday at 94 after suffering congestive heart failure. Her husband, Ronald Reagan, was the 40th president of the United States and served two terms from 1981-1989.
Nancy Reagan was well known for being extremely supportive of her husband throughout his time in office, but gained respect when she stepped out with her own policy goals and pursuits. Her best-known effort was the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign, which encouraged America’s youth to reject the peer pressure to use drugs. She was deeply involved in her husband’s political career behind the scenes. After her husband’s death in 2004 from pneumonia complicated by Alzheimer’s, she became a leading public voice advocating for Alzheimer’s awareness and research.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan were both actors when they first met, in 1949. At that time, the Red Scare was at its peak. Hollywood was under increased scrutiny as Congress tried to root out any actors, producers or directors who were communist sympathizers. A different actress by the same name as Nancy Reagan’s maiden name, Nancy Davis, was an alleged communist, but due to a mix up, the future first lady was placed on a Hollywood blacklist. The then-president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan himself, helped clear the confusion and permanently remove her from the list. The two fell in love, and married three years later.
Nancy Reagan will be buried today next to her husband at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.