Beautiful story and pictures. I love the one of your Church group with Pope John Pual II.
It’s a fine story.
I have always felt that the two greatest President’s of my lifetime are Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan.
Neither left the Presidency rich men. The held the Presidency too high to use it to become rich .
They were both honest men who loved their country.
Both did great things.
Those of us who were on the front lines know better. I was working for a successful Japanese importing company just before the iron curtain fell. One day, we got a call from the Soviet Embassy inviting us over for a frank talk on what we might be able to buy from them to sell to Japanese consumers. We spent much of the next four days, some of it riding around with them in their own chauffeured limo. It was during this time that they openly criticized their leadership and told us that big changes were coming for the better. This was only a couple of months before the Soviet Union collapsed.
We were dumbfounded about how people could be so smart about technical details like design and finding their way around the streets of Tokyo, so confusing to even many Japanese and long-time residents, but so utterly clueless about the basics of international trade and capitalism.
An almost unknown story, and one that needs some background, is how Ronald Reagan defeated the mighty Soviet Union - with wheat.
Early in his presidency, he did something enigmatic, and criticized by both the left and the right. He opened the door to unlimited grain sales to the Soviet Union. The left accused him of pandering to the farm vote, and the right, of supporting the Soviet Union.
For its part, the Soviet leaders since Lenin had been determined above all else to collectivize agriculture. It was an obsession with them, and one that never, ever worked, leaving their nation always on the verge of famine.
While they were willing to buy US wheat, they would only use it to feed their multitude of working farm animals, too paranoid that it might be poisoned. But then they would divert the animal food to feed their people.
Since the Ruble was worthless outside of the Soviet Union, they had to pay for the wheat with oil, soon all the crude oil they could produce. For wheat is expensive. Yet it was not enough.
So soon thereafter, they sent their gold to the US to buy wheat. And their reserves were soon exhausted, so they began dredging the deltas of their rivers to get more gold. But it was never enough.
Likewise any rare minerals, and their foreign currency reserves, all went to the US to buy wheat. Soon they were scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something, anything they could sell.
And then president Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, “Star Wars”. A program he could throw hundreds of billions of dollars at, as if they were nothing. It was too much for the Soviets to bear.
They could not match SDI in any way, which meant that the US would be protected against their missiles, but the Soviet Union would be helpless against American missiles.
To add insult to injury, their war in Afghanistan was going to hell. Again, thanks to Ronald Reagan, their military was dispirited, failing miserably, and soaking up what little money they had left.
The Cold War was over. They lost. And Ronald Reagan, the last Cold Warrior, was victorious.
Great story, Bill. Thanks for posting.