NIU republicans celebrate Reagan’s 100th birthday

By Danny Ciamprone

There was a man who was born in an apartment above a bar in Tampico, Ill. He would later become a Hollywood actor, and then the President of the United States.

Monday night, the NIU Student Association and the NIU College Republicans celebrated Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday in the Capital Room of the Holmes Student Center.

The focus of the party was not so much to honor Reagan’s work in Washington, but more so to focus on his life in Dixon, his hometown.

Tom Demmer, treasurer on the Board of Directors for Reagan’s Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation, started the event by delivering a slide show presentation to around 30 people.

“Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home is a fixture of the community,” Demmer said. “Dixon sees about 16,000 visitors a year, but in 2004 when he died that number went up to 32,000.”

Demmer went on to say he saw people from all over the world, especially from Eastern Europe because of how much of an impact Reagan made on their lives by helping to end communism and the threat of the Soviet Union.

To show how much Dixon meant to Reagan, Demmer shared a story told to him by his friend Scott Porter, a pastor in Sterling.

“Scott visited Reagan in 1998 when he had Alzheimer’s disease and was not in very good shape,” Demmer said. “Before he went in, his secretary said to him, ‘You know he doesn’t remember being president, right?’ But then when Scott mentioned Dixon, Reagan remembered everything and shared several boyhood stories.”

This was followed by a short video and the cutting of the birthday cake.

Derek Koegel, junior political science major, said he was very impressed by the event.

“I’m a Republican, but it’s my first time coming to one of these events,” Koegel said. “I thought it was good and that the speaker did a great job relating Reagan to Illinois.”

Aaron Killeen, junior economics and philosophy major, agreed.

“I like Reagan’s philosophies, so that’s why I came out tonight,” Killeen said. “I thought it was pretty good, and the speaker was really nice.”

In his final words to the crowd Demmer spoke of Reagan’s inspiration to people.

“I think the biggest message we can draw is the circumstances he was born in and the want to do something that most of us can’t conceive,” Demmer said. “That’s something that can really stay with us.”