40th President, Ronald Reagan, dies in California.

Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States largely credited with ushering in an era of conservative politics and pursuing a foreign policy that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, died Saturday at his home in California after a 10-year struggle with Alzheimer‘sdisease. He was 93.

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Born into poverty in 1911, raised in several small Illinois towns, Reagan turned a Depression-era radio sports-announcing job into a springboard to Hollywood fame and fortune. After a successful quarter-century career in movies and on television, at age 53 he turned his energies to politics full time and quickly became the inspirational leader of conservative Republicans nationwide. —40th President, Ronald Reagan, dies in California.

When Reagan spoke at U.Va. while I was a student, he confessed that he got mostly Cs in college. “I sometimes reflect that, I had applied myself to my studies, I might have gone farther in life” he quipped. The crowd responded with a polite chuckle, which quickly heated up into a full-fledged ovation — this was the leader of the free world, after all. Of course, there were also protesters holding signs such as, “AIDS: The Reagan Vietnam” and the like. But he sure knew how to work a crowd.

Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech is probably less famous now than his infamous “We begin bombing in five minutes” joke.

I just wrote a rather long blog entry reflecting on my high school years, so this news hits me at a time when I am perhaps a bit nostalgic for the time when Americans were obviously the good guys, and the Russians were so clearly the bad guys.