His greatest accomplishment, as illustrated so poignantly in the PBS documentary Commanding Heights, was ending the cold war and helping to facilitate the fall of Communism. He wasn't shy about expressing his thoughts on Communism -- characterizing it as a morally, logically, and financially bankrupt evil empire, both barbaric and absurd.
One of my favorite Reagan quotes goes something like this: "Someone asked me to explain the difference between a small businessman and a big businessman. My answer is that a big businessman is what a small businessman would be if only the government would get the hell out of the way and leave him alone."
I remember the day of the shooting -- not well, as I was still pretty young. But I remember being confused about why someone would want to hurt him. How naive.
Reagan's shadow reveals our current "conservative" President as a very pale imitation of the great one. Firmness of belief, strength of conviction, facility in expressing beliefs, goals, and motivation... there is no comparison.
Reagan really left us years ago, due to the ravages of the mind-destroying disease Alzheimer's. But today is a good point in history on which to look back and remember. There will never be another one like Reagan. There may not ever be another one who comes close.