The 8th of April is a wonderful day. Surely, it is not a special day for everyone. But for me it is.
Full disclosure: April 8th is the undersigned PowerBlogger’s birthday and he is not alone. It is also the birthday of some amazing people, among which are Betty Ford and German philosopher Edmund Husserl. April 8th is even said to be Buddha’s day of birth.
It is certainly no Christmas, but at least this day has left me with some unforgettable gifts – particularly historic memories, like on April 8th in 1974 when American baseball legend Hank Aaron blasted Babe Ruth’s “unbeatable” home run record out of the ballpark. This was, in fact, my very first childhood recollection. At least it was the most exciting one!
Most importantly, April 8th has granted me some treasured moments regarding three of my favorite heroes of human liberty, a triumvirate of freedom fighters: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher. Two of the memories are linked to major events, while the third to a minor but very important happening that garnered virtually no press attention.
The first event was on April 8th in 2005 when the great Polish saint and pope was laid to earthly rest at a Vatican City State funeral which I attended. It was a day, after a week-long wake, which drew a million visitors to Rome while a few billion more viewed the events on TV to pay homage to John Paul the Great. I patiently waited hours to catch a brief 2-3 second glimpse of an open casket, to see the exposed lifeless face of a man who had once breathed life, hope and courage into my fellow hapless Gen Xers and rechristened them the brave “JPII Generation.” He taught us – the last set of young adults to nervously wait out escalating Cold War tensions – “to be not afraid” of the threat of totalitarian communism and to live a full, robust life honoring our true vocations and with joyous freedom and confidence in Christ. Moreover, John Paul II taught us that the exchange and service-oriented economy was the best natural fit for exercising our freedom to flourish and serve one another and God through our individual callings – to “make [ourselves] an active contribution to the common good of humanity” as was eloquently penned in his 1991 social encyclical Centesimus Annus. The winds were furious that April morning in St. Peter’s Square while the rain thematically wept down from heaven alongside the rest of the world’s tears.
The second event was on April 8th in 2011. By a miraculous unanimous vote (34-0), the California State Senate passed what proved to be an irreversible resolution to institute the first-ever Ronald Reagan Day. Go figure: a day to honor the conservative and market-loving Ronald Reagan, the former governor and President of the United States whom Left Coast Californians absolutely love to hate. The battle to recognize the legacy of Reagan, the man who wanted to “tear down the wall” of their socialist ideology, was not over yet. It would not be approved without a long fight. The vote had to return again to the Lower House and finally for a vote before the full California State Assembly. At long last, the uber left Governor Jerry Brown officially proclaimed February 6th Ronald Reagan Day in 2011.
The third event was on April 8th in 2013. It was the sad day the strong-willed Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher let go of life, departing for her eternal rest after suffering a stroke. I was in London for a conference on virtue, individual responsibility, and economic liberty, the very themes sewn into the heart of the formidable prime minister who said socialism worked only until you “ran out of other people’s money.” Her casket was escorted for a final national salute throughout an absolutely solemn public procession in central London, in all the pomp and circumstance that only the British really know how to do for their respected leaders.
May the future hold many more April 8ths that will help us remember and revere those who fought for freedom, virtue and the faith.
Photo credit for featured and center image: Wikipedia