Ft. Benning soldiers remember Reagan - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ft. Benning soldiers remember Reagan

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June 11, 2004

Ft. Benning - He will always be known as the president who defeated communism.

Long before becoming president, Ronald Reagan joined the Army Reserves and later made training films for the Army-Air Force.

At a rememberance ceremony at Ft. Benning on Friday, singer Celeste Lee sings, "My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the LORD...."

Ft. Benning's Commanding General Benjamin Freakley admits with a nervous laugh, "I'll probably get emotional, hang with me."

An emotional moment for Freakley as he tells a crowd of men and women in uniform about the 40th President of the United States. He adds, "It was clear to me the President of the United States was well aware of the average citizen." His voice trails off, forcing back tears.

Freakley considered himself an average citizen when he shared a handshake with President Reagan whild working at the Capitol for four short months. Freakley remembers his first meeting, "The President was engrossed in a conversation about something of national importance, I'm sure, and all of the sudden he stopped and he walked across the room and said, "Hey, you new around here aren't you?" I said, "Yes, sir." Standing there in my blues and he stuck his hand out and said, "Ron Reagan." I said, "Sir, Captain Freakley."

President Ronald Reagan, a father, a husband and an Army officer.  Freakley adds, "President Reagan embodied what the Army holds most dear and that is our values. He was loyal to America and Americans."

An incredible American leader and morale booster. As a tribute to the optimistic two-term President, the commanding general rallies his own troops on a day that America mourns. Freakley tells the crowd, "Today, we will continue to try to build what President Reagan called us to do, and that was for America to be the shining city on the hill for the rest of the world. May GOD bless President Reagan and his family. GOD bless our infantry, our deployed troops and GOD Bless America!"

Ronald Reagan was honorably discharged from the Army in 1943.

posted at 4:45PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com