A Legacy Remembered
Review by Michael Jacobson
Nancy Reagan, Ron Reagan, Patti Davis, Mikhail Gorbachev, George Bush,
George W. Bush, Casper Weinberger, Ed Meese
Interviewer: Frank Sesno
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: Reagan family tree, A&E Biography episode on Ronald Reagan
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: March 25, 2003
you saw was what you got, and what you got was very good, and very American.”
Schultz on Ronald Reagan
think most of us have an awareness of the terrible destructive power of
Alzheimer’s disease, but I don’t know if I’d ever understood it in such a
personal way as when I watched Ronald Reagan: A Legacy Remembered. At
the time of this writing, the former president is still alive and with us—in
fact, he had only recently passed his 91st birthday—yet his family
always spoke of him in the past tense. It
was a rather heartbreaking revelation to realize that though he lives on in
body, the man his family knew and loved so well is already gone to them.
now I’ll have to ask your patience while I wax a little personal about our
country’s 40th president and what he meant to me during my years
was born while Nixon was in office, and my parents taught me from a very young
age to love God, honor my country, and respect my president.
Neither they nor anybody else could have foreseen the public relations
nightmare that was Watergate. I was
only 4 when it happened, and incapable of understanding everything at the time,
but it made an impression on me.
the years that followed, we had Ford, who seemed like an understudy to me, and
Carter, who entered the Oval Office with great promise but whose four years saw
our nation sink to the lowest state I had seen in my short life.
I can still remember the fearful runaway inflation, the oil crisis, the
gas station lines, and the demoralizing blow of our fellow citizens held hostage
in Iran while we seemed powerless to act.
mention all of this only as a prelude to how striking Ronald Reagan was to me,
even as an eleven year old boy. “The
Great Communicator”, as he would soon be nicknamed, had a way of speaking
publicly that made you feel like he was talking to you personally…and not down
to you, but TO you. When he spoke
of returning to America her pride, strength, and economic security, millions
cheered…and one pre-teenaged boy in Jacksonville, Florida felt like he
belonged to that vision as much as anybody else.
program from the History Channel gets three stars for effort, but as I write
this review, I feel an urgency to fill in some of the gaps left by this 100
minute look back at a remarkable 8 year presidency, as well as to combat the
fervent attempts my modern detractors to revise history in order to diminish the
accomplishments of Ronald Reagan and what he meant to the United States.
national debt did triple during his years in office as the program points out;
that’s true. But the blame is
often placed on his tax cuts and economic policies that few detractors mention
pulled this country out of one of it’s worst recessions and created some 19
million new jobs. The problem
wasn’t economic stimulus, it was simply one of spending.
Reagan’s goals were military oriented (Communism was still a real and
viable threat in the 80s), while Congress wanted more money for domestic
programs. Each placated the other
to get what he/they wanted. It
effectively destroyed one aspect of Reaganomics, which was the reduction of
philosophy of surrounding himself with knowledgeable, capable people and letting
them do their jobs was a superb one for many years, but there is always the risk
that something will go wrong. In
his last years in office, something did, making the Iran-Contra affair the only
real scandal of the Reagan presidency.
his eight years oversaw remarkable growth in this country, a return to optimism
and strength, the first crucial steps towards a lasting peace between our nation
and the Soviet Union, the first key reductions in nuclear arms, and most of all,
something completely intangible: Reagan
let us walk tall again, and after a decade of uncertainty and strife, made us
once again proud to be Americans.
Legacy Remembered doesn’t quite relay that last aspect as well as I would have liked,
because ultimately, as a man who spent his formidable years under a Reagan White
House, it’s what I’ll always remember about him first and foremost.
If my little nieces and nephews someday ask me what Ronald Reagan was
like as a president, that will be what I say.
the program stretches beyond the political career of the man and touches on his
personal life as well. Loving
remembrances from his wife Nancy are heartwarming. The ones from his sons Michael and Ron and daughter Patti are
sometimes even more touching, since his children didn’t exactly see eye to eye
with their father in politics. Former
and current presidents George Bush and George W. Bush remember the man
personally and not just presidentially. Even
former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev recalls him with warmth and humor.
The combination of plenty of historical footage from his movie career to
his early years in politics throughout his presidency and beyond, mixed with
modern interviews and recollections, make this a well presented documentary with
a distinctly personal touch.
hasn’t been the same since he left office.
In the years since, we’ve had one rather ineffectual and pale imitator,
and one embarrassing perjurer and womanizer who engaged in extramarital
activities in the very Oval Office that Reagan wouldn’t even walk into without
his coat and tie on. The jury is
still out on our current president, who counts Reagan as one of his
heroes…it’s a difficult legacy to live up to.
in the end, I’ll conclude that while A Legacy Remembered may not be the
best record of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, it does serve as a nearly complete
portrait of him as a husband, father, and human being.
Understanding the man, his faith, his values, his drives and his core
beliefs is a wonderful key in understanding the president.
is a good overall presentation overall, mixing new video interview footage with
some classic bits. Modern portions
come across cleanly, with good coloring. It’s
mostly “talking heads”, so no need for detail scrutiny or an overall
assessment of the imagery. For a
straightforward documentary, it works fine.
stereo soundtrack is as good as can be asked for, given the nature of the
program, which is just about all dialogue with a few bits of music here and
there. It’s clean and clear and
singular in volume level.
addition to a Reagan family tree, this disc includes the “Role of a
Lifetime” Ronald Reagan episode of the always excellent A&E program Biography.
It’s less personal but more concise and focused on his presidential
years, even covering events left out of Legacy such as the Libya bombings
and the air traffic controller strike.