Today marks our most popular president's birthday, born Feb. 6, 1911.
You learn a lot from someone in how they spend their sunset years, looking at how they've changed, whom they credit for their success and whom they lift high.
Make no mistake, Ronald Reagan loved God and hard work. This could not be more evident in the way he built and preserved Rancho del Cielo, where he spent his final years after the presidency.
President Reagan called Rancho del Cielo his "open cathedral," where he worked hard building fences, tiling his floors and digging a pond he stocked with goldfish. He frequently rode his horses on the dusty trails of his 688-acre sanctuary.
At the highest point, where Air Force One would land, Reagan would overlook miles of other mountains and valleys and he reflected on Psalm 121:
I will lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who guards Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not harm you during the day, nor the moon during the night.
The Lord shall protect you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from now and for evermore.
That's my greatest takeaway from the Reagan Ranch — President Reagan built the ranch so he could be closest to God. Though the Gipper is gone, his character can be felt at the ranch — his humility and his humor lives on.
From his humble childhood in Illoinois, crediting his mom with planting a seed of faith in him, to his acting years in Hollywood, Reagan had seen it all.
And that's one of the biggest reasons Reagan connects with the average person—you and me. He'd been through a lot, had many changes—I mean he used to be a Democrat, for goodness' sake. Personally, I connect with him on many levels. I grew up on a horse farm, so I fell in love with the ranch, but I also loved how much he valued his time with God and getting into the presence of God, something that my mom also instilled in me.
This was a place for retreat, but he also brought the world into his humble abode. Reagan spent so many vacations during his presidency at the ranch that it became known as the Western White House. He signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 at the ranch and hosted British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Oh, how I wish I could've seen those visits!
Leaving the Great Communicator's sanctuary, I was left speechless. Think about it, the leader of the free world, so humble and aware of God's presence, gave us so many things, but the greatest was his love for God, for others and for country.
Today, every candidate on both sides of the aisle wants to be the next Ronald Reagan, or at least embody his character, from Sarah Palin to Barack Obama.
Although he is gone, Ronald Reagan is not forgotton. We remember him in so many ways — from his influence as a young man to his sunset years at the ranch—Ronald Reagan lived a life worth studying and honoring.
I look forward to the many ways we can continue to honor the Gipper—one being the upcoming biopic about our 40th president featuring David Henrie.
His humility, hard work and his humor live on, thanks in large part to the Young America's Foundation, inspiring so many young Americans like myself to honestly remember the life and legacy of Reagan and restore America to the "shining city on a hill" that Reagan spoke of.
How will you remember and honor Reagan's life and legacy? Also, please share your favorite Reagan quotes below.
Caleb Parke is a writer and conservative Christian based in Washington, D.C.
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