Usually this column is reserved for relevant creation issues, but this month it includes a "Tribute" to the late Ronald Reagan. ICR, being in California, has had a number of contacts with his former staff. All of them relate his Christian and creationist commitments and how he openly lived out his Christian testimony.
Several years ago, ICR colleague Mr. Paul Thompson wrote four youth-oriented adventure stories about prominent creationists affiliated with ICR. The last book featured ICR Board member Dr. Ben Aaron, the surgeon who removed the assassin's bullet from Reagan's chest. The intense operating room drama became a gripping Christian adventure tale in Operation Rawhide. The memories of his interviews with Reagan becomes a "Tribute" to a dear Christian, creationist man—
Ronald Reagan 41st President: A Tribute
Fifteen years ago I called John Morris at ICR asking for a lead on a high-profile, godly man who had experienced an exciting event that could serve as the nucleus for a youth creation story. He suggested Dr. Ben Aaron. A few days later our 11-year-old son Bobby and I were at George Washington University Hospital gowning up to enter the operating room where the surgery had taken place. For two hours Dr. Aaron held Bobby and me transfixed as details of the procedure rolled out . . . his pre-op banter with the President including the quote from the President that drew laughter and set everyone at ease, "I sure hope all you doctors are Republicans!" How, after opening the chest, he prayed to locate the bullet that was lodged at the bottom of the lung which, with an inadvertent nudge, could be sent into the heart causing instant fatality. How his prayer was answered with an idea of inserting a catheter through the bullet hole, the slender tube transversing the trail of the bullet through broken lung tissue until it delicately tapped the shell; how his fingers following the catheter carefully parted lung tissue until he felt the bullet and with steady hand removed it, then "Eureka!"
In my research and conversations with the President, I discovered a man firmly fixed in his belief in a personal Creator Savior and one who had a special heartbeat for our youth, having pushed hard for Christian prayer in public schools, along with a conviction of a recently created universe against the "insidiousness" of evolution. He gave us his code name "Rawhide" which led to the book title Operation Rawhide. Upon leaving the presidency, he sent us an invitation to meet with him at his California office. His exuberant, heartfelt conversation with our sons Bobby and Thor, and our 8-year-old daughter Paula, were precious joys, fleeting moments that will always be held dear by my wife Julie and me. And as we were leaving, he pulled our Marine son Thor aside mentioning to him, "I have a special place in my heart for our military, especially after losing 248 of your fellow Marines to a suicide bomber in Beirut. Nancy and I pray every evening for their families left behind." When he learned that Thor was going to Kuwait
President Reagan and Ben Aaron.
under Desert Shield, the President cocked his head and asked, "How does it feel to be potentially the first soldier to roll up your chute in downtown Baghdad?" I heard the response, duty—honor—country—God
Several years later Dr. Aaron and I met the President for our last time, presenting him with the original oil painting cover of Operation Rawhide. The ravages of oncoming Alzheimer's Disease were evident when he pointed to his portrait on the cover, smiled at his likeness, and then slid his finger down to the men lying on the ground that were shot during the assassination attempt. His countenance perceptively dropped and sensing our awkwardness, the President regained his composure and moved to his desk. Soon with a homey joke, a wry smile, and a burst of laughter, he had once more put all at ease.
Our son Thor went on to serve in Desert Storm. Paula graduated from West Point and is serving in Korea with imminent deployment to Iraq. Our son Bobby, along with the President, is home with the Lord—I like to think the two of them are regaling on with great stories, praising God, no more tears, and lots of laughter.