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Opinion: Nancy Reagan revolutionized the role of FLOTUS

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With Tuesday being International Women’s Day, it is important to remember prominent women in our country’s history. One individual that comes to mind for me is Nancy Reagan, who passed away Sunday at 94 years old.

Before the modern era of politics, women were nowhere to be found in the pupil of America’s political eye. The first lady was the first woman to come out and be a political figure for all American women, and Reagan showed that the position of first lady was more than a position of marriage to a president.

President Barack Obama and current first lady Michelle Obama had very kind words in regard to how she “redefined the role.”

“Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives,” the Obamas said.

The former first lady advocated for so much in her time on this planet. She advocated for the Foster Grandparent Program and brought the program to national spotlight. The program was not popular at its start, with only 782 foster grandparents. In 1985, the program reached 19,000 foster grandparents and helped 65,000 children across all 50 states, thanks to Reagan.

Reagan became the motherly face for children with her “Just Say No” campaign to combat children using drugs. Many critics see this as the start of the war on drugs; however, Reagan was simply looking out for children, as she always did.

She would also advocate for the United States as she visited various locations abroad and essentially worked as an ambassador while being first lady. At that time, this was unheard of for a women to be doing so much while in a position that was once very minute.

Her courage expanded to fighting breast cancer. Reagan went on to defeat breast cancer in October 1987. She had to make a sensitive decision and had her breast medically removed to overcome the disease.

July 27, 2000, both Reagans received the Congressional Gold Medal. The medal is the highest civilian award attainable by a standing United States Congress. The decision was bipartisan and highlighted the former first lady’s work in and out of the White House.

Reagan revolutionized what it meant to be a first lady. She did so by her courage and determination to be vocal for children and her country. In the crazy times we live in today politically, it is important to remember extraordinary women who made it possible for others that have followed her and will continue to follow her.

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