Reagan legacy links local Republicans
By By Erin Hilsabeck / staff writer
June 9, 2004
As federal railroad administrator, whenever Meridian's Gil Carmichael made a speech, he kept notes written on 3-by-5 cards. He kept the cards in his pocket, just in case he needed them.
He learned to do this from former president Ronald Reagan.
Reagan, 93, died Saturday at his home in Los Angeles, Calif. His body will be flown today to Washington, D.C. for a state funeral and public visitation in the Capitol Rotunda. A funeral service at Washington National Cathedral will be Friday at 10:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time.
As the body of the former president returns to Washington, D.C., many people are thinking about the time he spent there as president.
Among them is G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, whose service in the U.S. House included the eight years of the Reagan administration.
On Aug. 3, 1980, Reagan, having just been officially nominated by the GOP, kicked off his general election campaign at the Neshoba County Fair. He was accompanied by First Lady Nancy Reagan and flanked on the stage by U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and then-U.S. Rep. Trent Lott.
Newspaper accounts of the day show Reagan smiling broadly and shaking hands with some of the more than 30,000 people who crowded Founders Square to see and hear him. His speech that day was described as mesmerizing.
Greg Harkins, a master woodworker and chairmaker from Vaughn, presented Reagan with a rocking chair, handmade in Mississippi from hickory wood, remembered Sally Brown, chairman of the Lauderdale County Republican Party.
Though Brown never worked directly with Reagan, she said she felt their political involvement began at about the same time.
Reagan switched his political affiliation from the Democratic to the Republican party in 1962, which was when Brown became active with the party in Lauderdale County.
During his terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Montgomery said Reagan frequently invited him to the White House for various receptions and functions.
Admirers have little difficulty finding words to describe Reagan's presidency.