Every year, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library hosts a celebration to commemorate the February 6 birthday of our 40th President. The event is free and open to the public.
Today marked the 106th birthday of President Reagan, who passed away in 2004. This was the first celebration that took place without the First Lady, Nancy Reagan, in attendance, who passed away exactly 11 months ago -- March 6, 2016.
The keynote speaker at today's event was former journalist and White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson.
The Reagan Library's Executive Director John Heubusch introduced Donaldson as the perfect person to reflect on Reagan's ability to reach across the aisle and use humor to achieve such remarkable success; "...while looking through President Reagan's speeches, I found over a dozen references to Sam Donaldson as the punchline to a joke."
Donaldson was in great form, today, speaking for over 20 minutes, bringing many fun anecdotes and stories to the appreciative crowd.
"Perhaps the most important of Reagan productions came at Geneva, Switzerland*, on the day when the man who called the Soviet Union an evil empire, met for the first time, a maximum leader for that empire -- Mikhail Gorbachev" Donaldson started. "We'd asked the President back in Washington whether he was nervous about meeting this leader, Gorbachev." "Reagan responded <panned by Donaldson in Reagan voice> 'Oh no, I once co-starred with Errol Flynn'" to the laughter of attendees. It was an entertaining and informative keynote and you can see it in the video below. (Donaldson begins at around 17:30 into the video.)
* The Geneva Summit was held on November 19 and 20, 1985. It was the first meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev to discuss international relations and the arms race.