Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Candle in the Dark Night

Remarkable story about Reagan in 1981.  Source is B. Burch of CatholicVote.com.

It was 30 years ago, December 13, 1981, that martial law was imposed upon Poland by the communist government. Poles were aghast, horrified, frightened. And so was the man in Rome, a Polish native named John Paul II, and so was another man thousands of miles away in Washington, DC, President Ronald Reagan. 

When word of the communists’ actions reached the White House, President Reagan was furious. He wanted to help the people of Poland in any way he could. At that very moment, Reagan committed to save and sustain the Polish Solidarity movement as the wedge that could splinter the entire Soviet bloc, as the first crack in the Iron Curtain.

One of Reagan’s first responses was to call someone he deeply respected: John Paul II.

.....
There is much more I could say about all of this, having written books on the subject, but one item that happened precisely 30 years ago, right now, on December 23, 1981, is especially moving and notable:

On that date, Reagan held a private meeting in the White House with the Polish ambassador, Romuald Spasowski, and his wife, both of whom had just defected to the United States. Michael Deaver, a close Reagan aide, witnessed the meeting.

(Quoting Deaver):

...Then, almost sheepishly, he said, “May I ask you a favor, Mr. President? Would you light a candle and put in the window tonight for the people of Poland?”

And right then, Ronald Reagan got up and went to the second floor, lighted a candle, and put it in the window of the dining room. 

That evening, with Christmas only two days away, the president gave a nationally televised speech watched by tens of millions of Americans. He connected the spirit of the Christmas season with events in Poland: “For a thousand years,” he told his fellow Americans, “Christmas has been celebrated in Poland, a land of deep religious faith, but this Christmas brings little joy to the courageous Polish people. They have been betrayed by their own government.” He made an extraordinary gesture: The president asked Americans that Christmas season to light a candle in support of freedom in Poland

Obviously, it took more than candles to free Poland.  But never under-estimate the apparition of light in darkness, folks.

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