March 1 marked the beginning of Women's History Month, a time to celebrate the most iconic female trailblazers in science, politics, activism, art and more. Many are familiar with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Earhart, Simone de Beauvoir, Rosalind Franklin, and Sandra Day O'Connor, just to name a few. Today, I want to focus on former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Mrs. Reagan passed away early Sunday, March 6 at the age of 94.
A spokeswoman for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library said that she died from congestive heart failure in her Los Angeles home and "will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan, who died on June 5, 2004."
According to an aid and dear friend of the Reagans, Michael K. Deaver, life would have been drastically different without Nancy Reagan.The former actress gave up her career to devote time to her one true love. She played a strong role in selecting the political advisors who would lead her husband to victory in 1980.
"Without Nancy, there would have been no Governor Reagan, no president Reagan."
There would have been a huge gap in American history without the intense sense of patriotism that Ronald Reagan brought to his presidency. The world wouldn't have experience the infamous Reaganomics or an end to the Cold War.
As First Lady, Nancy restored an air of elegance to the White House, one that might only be rivaled by the Kennedy era. But Nancy Reagan was more than a fashionable actress who found her way to Washington D.C. She wasn't just a pretty face and an adoring wife.
Nancy is behind the "Just Say No" campaign which pushed for drug prevention and awareness in America. She is quoted saying that,
"There's a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in this country, and no one is safe from it - not you, not me, and certainly not our children, because this epidemic has their names written on it. Many of you may be thinking: "Well, drugs don't concern me." But it does concern you. It concerns us all because of the way it tears at our lives and because it's aimed at destroying the brightness and life of the sons and daughters of the United States. "
In 1994, Nancy was faced with Ronald's Alzheimer's diagnosis. Near the end of the book, "I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan," Nancy commented on her husband's disease,
“You know that it’s a progressive disease and that there’s no place to go but down, no light at the end of the tunnel. You get tired and frustrated, because you have no control and you feel helpless...We’ve had an extraordinary life, There are so many memories that I can no longer share, which makes it very difficult. When it comes right down to it, you’re in it alone. Each day is different, and you get up, put one foot in front of the other, and go—and love; just love."
This would later push her to advocate for embryonic stem cell research with President George W. Bush. She hoped that if she couldn't save her husband, she could, at least, save the other 5 million people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease.
Former 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid tribute to the late Nancy Reagan, saying, "With the passing of Nancy Reagan, we say a final goodbye to the days of Ronald Reagan. With charm, grace, and a passion for America, this couple reminded us of the greatness and the endurance of the American experiment." It's true. Today we say goodbye to the Reagan era. We also mourn the loss of one of the most amazing and influential women in US history.
Thank you, Nancy Reagan. Rest in peace.