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Mid-Missouri honors Reagan

Friday, June 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:31 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Memories of events and quotes from Ronald Reagan's presidency filled the air on Friday during a memorial observance in his honor at the Courthouse Square in Columbia.

More than 100 people attended the 45-minute ceremony, some of them not old enough to remember the former president's time in office.

Geoffrey Preckshot, organizer of the event, opened the ceremony and introduced each speaker.

Dewey Crepeau, a local attorney and a Republican candidate for attorney general, told the gathering that Ronald Reagan was a great man committed to great ideas. "Mr. Reagan belonged to all of us collectively, but he touched us individually," Crepeau said.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Keith Schnarre described Reagan as honest, straightforward and respectful of others. "We thank you, Mr. President, for the service to this country and the hope you gave us," he said. "You helped us live the American dream because you lived it."

A performance of Amazing Grace by Kathleen Basi from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church followed Schnarre's remarks.

Preckshot concluded the ceremony with his personal evaluation of Reagan's presidency. He said the first word that comes to his mind when he hears Reagan's name is freedom. Preckshot said he saw freedom in its financial aspect with Reagan's strive for lower taxes, as well as in its political sense with the president's fight against communism. This sense of freedom expanded beyond America, Preckshot said, into Grenada, Russia and Eastern Europe.

The ceremony finished with a benediction by Pastor F. Scott Luhrs from the New Hope Baptist Church in Princeton.

William Samuels, a Columbia attorney, learned of the observance from a fellow Republican. He said he respected Reagan because "he stood up for what he believed in and he got things accomplished." Samuels described himself as not terribly sentimental but admitted that his eyes watered when he watched a movie about Reagan on the History channel Thursday night.

"He rose from the working class, but he deserved to be called a gentleman more than most preppies I've met," Samuels said.

Wearing star-spangled shorts, red, white and blue sandals and a silky scarf with the American flag, Beverly Meyer came to the event with several friends from church. She learned about it in a friend's e-mail.

"I really believe in what he did," she said about Reagan, especially since she had seen the Berlin Wall and life under communism - two of the signature issues during his presidency.

"I'm a really strong believer in democracy and self-government," she said.

Preckshot said he organized the observance because he didn't want this day to pass unnoticed in Columbia. He said he was pleased with the turnout.


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