Monday, July 6, 2009

Fairfax, Iowa Celebrates USA's 233 Years of Freedom. Recalls Ronald Reagan Visit.

Independence Day 2009 is celebrated in many ways throughout the USA from parades to speeches to family gatherings and of course fireworks. One of the traditions around 42N country is the display of American flags. This arrangement of Old Glory is located at Saint Patrick's Cemetery (41.895N, 91.794W) near Fairfax, Iowa.

Twenty-five years ago, then President Reagan spoke at the Fairfax Saint Patrick's Catholic Church located a couple of miles north of this cemetery. Below are his concluding remarks from that day, September 20, 1984. The Great Communicator knew his audience. His full speech can be found here. Know that.

"How many of you weren't at the [Cedar Rapids] airport rally today? Then, I'm going to tell you. Those who were there are going to have to hear something again. I hadn't told it, I just thought about it for the first time in many, many years, a little personal experience I had in 1948. I'd gone to England to make a picture called ``The Hasty Heart.'' And on the weekends, never having been there before, I'd hire a driver and a car and have him show me the countryside outside of London. And -- --

[At this point, the President was briefly interrupted by a train whistle.]

Quiet! [Laughter]

Is that his campaign train? [Laughter]

But he stopped one evening, as the Sun was going down on one of those weekends, a pub that he said was 400 years old. And we went in, and a matronly woman, a very nice lady, was serving us. And down, some tables down, was an elderly gentleman, and he was -- they were the only two, evidently, running this place.

And when she heard us talk for awhile, she said, ``You're Americans, aren't you?'' And I said, ``Yes, we are.'' And then she said, ``Oh, there were a great number of your chaps stationed just down the road from here during the war.'' And she said, ``They used to come in every evening, and they'd have a songfest.'' And she said, ``They called me `Mom' and they called the old man `Pop'.''

And by this time, she's not looking at me anymore. She's looking kind of out into the distance with memory, and there's a tear on her cheek. She said, ``It was a Christmas Eve. We were here all alone.'' And she said, ``The door burst open and in they come, and they had presents for us.'' And then she said -- and this is why I'm telling you the story -- she said, ``Big strapping lads they was, from a place called Iowa.'' [Laughter] And then I had a tear on my cheek.

Well, I thank you so much for your very wonderful hospitality and for the warmth and kindness that comes so naturally to Iowans. And I want you to know that I enjoyed both the beef and the pork for lunch. [Laughter] No argument about that.

Thank you all, and God bless you."

President Ronald Reagan
Remarks at a Community Picnic
Fairfax, Iowa
September 20, 1984

Note: The President spoke at 12:15 p.m. on the lawn of St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Following his remarks, the President traveled to Grand Rapids, MI.

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