Image Credits: EW

July 6th is a special day for conservatives. We’re still working off the calories from Fourth of July barbeques, but we get the chance to celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest First Ladies of all time, Nancy Reagan. That’s right. July 6th, 1921, was the day that the inimitable Anne Frances Robbins, who would later be known as Nancy Davis, before her marriage, was born. The world was heartbroken when Nancy passed away this past March, but her legacy lives on in those she has impacted.  Whether you got to experience her as a First Lady or not, no doubt you can find inspiration in how she lived her life, and she certainly set the bar high for first ladies to come. She was not the same type of First Lady that Martha Washington or Mary Todd Lincoln were, and her unique approach to her position brought her much love and acclaim. We miss her every day, but on her birthday, we like to honor her a little more than usual.

There is a reason that even up until her death Nancy Reagan had such a stunning presence. She was a trained actress, receiving her Bachelor of the Arts in drama at Smith College before heading to Hollywood to make a name for herself. She started off with a contract with MGM Studios, but she still had to work hard to find success as one would typically categorize it. Some of her earliest movies included The Doctor and the Girl, East Side, West Side, and Night Into Morning.

We all admire Nancy and Ronald’s awe-inducing love story, but the impetus behind it also showed Nancy’s amazing bravery and her dedication to whatever she set her mind to. You see, Nancy Davis had ended up on the blacklist in Hollywood that signified relations with the Communist Party. However, it was not the same Nancy Davis that ended up becoming our first lady, but many people didn’t know that. So, what was a young actress to do but call up the president of the Screen Actors Guild, the most powerful person in Hollywood, and explain the situation? That’s exactly what Nancy did, and that president just happened to be the man who would go on to become one of the greatest presidents of all time, Ronald Reagan. Well, her bravery in stepping up to handle a tough situation proved fruitful, as she ended up getting back on the screen and scoring a husband to be quite proud of.  

Of course, only fifteen years after their marriage, Ronald Reagan was elected to be the Governor of California, and Nancy went from being a full-time wife and homemaker to being the state’s first lady. She was called by the Los Angeles Times a “model first lady” based on her glamour, style, and youthfulness. Eventually, the White House called and after losing the primary to Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan went on to win the presidency in 1980.

Once she was in the White House, Nancy Reagan’s great taste was on stage for the world. For such a little woman, she had such a big sense of style, and she was hailed around the world for her taste.

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During her time at the White House, Nancy Reagan was more than just a style icon. She famously began the Just Say No to Drugs campaign, which taught children all across the nation about the danger of drug use and the best methods for avoiding drug use in their lives. “Just Say No” may seem a simple idea, but Nancy augmented it with legislation, including the “National Crusade for a Drug Free America Act” and youth prevention and rehabilitation programs.

Nancy saw her most important responsibility as being the president’s personal protector. After the assassination attempt against President Reagan in 1981, She took care to always know his itinerary and she wanted to be present with him whenever possibly to ensure his safety. After the threat of assassination, can we blame her? Her dedication to being Reagan’s protector carried on to life after the White House. When Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,  Nancy became his caretaker and made very few public appearances, instead focusing on caring for her beloved husband.

Nancy Reagan, may her soul rest in peace, was such an inspiration as a woman, a wife, a mother, a first lady, and a person in general. Her undying dedication to her husband was inspiring, and her unique take on the role of first lady was much needed. She focused on the issues that few ladies of her caliber would be willing to admit existed, and she tackled them with grace and pose and while looking like a million bucks. We can only hope that in the future we are blessed as a country with a First Lady as great as Nancy Reagan who will leave such a lasting impression on us all.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member