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Saturday, June 12, 2004
Key Images

By Steven Taylor @ 9:16 am

There have been a number of striking photographs from the last week, some majestic, others personal. One of the images the helps sum up the Reagan legacy is this one:

Lech Walesa was a shipyard electrician in Gdansk, Poland who became first a political activist, then a political prisoner, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and eventually, President of Poland. As he noted in the WSJ yesterday, the fact that he went from dock worker to President is in no small part because of the Reagan presidency.

The presence of Walesa is quite significant, given that Poland was really the first place that the hold of the Soviets over Eastern Europe began to falter and that eventually showed the weakness of what had been thought to have been an iron grip. I wrote my senior honors thesis on the Polish revolution, and so seeing Walesa at the funeral was especially poignant to me.

Similarly, the presence of Gorbachev is symbolically quite significant as well:

Yes, Gorbachev deserves important recognition in the history of the demise of the Soviet Union. However, one has to remember: his goal was neither the dismantlement of the Soviet empire, nor was it the cessation of the Cold War. His goal was to reinvigorate the Soviet Union via reform. Of further note: he did not leave power willingly, nor through a legal mechanism. He was first the victim of a coup attempt by hardline CPSU leaders, and ultimately ousted by the peaceful revolution led by Yeltsin and the democrat reformer who oversaw the collapse of the USSR.

I have oft noted that I knew without a doubt that we had won the Cold War hand down and that communism as a global force was truly dead for the ages when, in 1997, Gorbachev appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial. Indeed, it was pretty clear things were heading towards the end when McDonald’s opened in Red Square during the waning years of Gorbachev’s tenure in office.

And, of course, the presence of Lady Thatcher, despite her ill health was an honor to the United States. She, too was a giant in the fight against global Communism.

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1 Comment»

  1. Lady Thatcher is the one that stood out for me. She had every right to stay home. Yet there she was despite ill health and an inablity to speak.

    There is no better example of “keepng a stiff upper lip.”

    It also draws a very sharp contrast to Pres. Chirac who didn’t have the decency to delay his trip home for one day to attend the services.

    Comment by Cranial — Saturday, June 12, 2004 @ 10:11 am

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