Among all the stories in the press today that are decrying our lack of leadership in Washington, I found this resurrected link to a months-old story about a presidency that many find themselves wishing had never ended:

Someday, I’d like to put together a Major Dude Hall of Fame – a list of men we can all look up to and take inspiration from.  Right now, though, I’ll name the Gipper himself my numero uno Major Dude of all time. Yep – President Ronald Wilson Reagan.

I don’t care what your politics are, you’ve got to admire this man for what he did with his life. When Jane Wyman dumped him because of his strong political views (she thought he was boorish), what did he do? Did he waffle and forget about politics so as not to turn off the next woman who would come along?

No sir. He stuck to his guns and found himself – found strength in who he was. Went on to become the Governor of the greatest state in the country (at that time), and then was elected POTUS – one of the greatest we’ve ever had. Really, just think about it. He went from being brokenhearted and devastated by his divorce to becoming the most powerful man in the world.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself that it’s different for celebrities and Hollywood actors when they go through a divorce – their lives are much easier than yours and mine. They’ve got money. Dude, just read this: During an interview actress Patricia Neal was quoted regarding the divorce: “It was, you know, just terrible because he was very unhappy. He was in an apartment by himself. … He was heartbroken. He really was, because he didn’t want a divorce from her. But Jane wanted it.” One report indicates Wyman felt her husband was “indifferent” to her acting work, focusing his attention on his involvement with the Screen Actors Guide.

Just think about that the next time you find yourself getting really down. The Gipper, alone in his apartment, crying his heart out. Can you imagine?

Politics aside, he was a great man and deeply principled. Unfortunately, normalcy eluded him in family life, as it does all public figures, but he remained very much a part of his daughter Maureen’s and adopted son Michael’s life. A Major Dude doesn’t walk away from his kids under any circumstances – biological or adopted.

His divorce had a profound affect on him that he carried with him for the rest of his life. Back in those days, you usually had to get down and dirty in order to file for – and get – a divorce. You had to truly villify the other person and drag them through the mud. He and Jane handled it with class, the best they could, but it tore him up pretty badly. So one of his first acts as Governor was to pass California’s no-fault divorce law. Years later, he was somewhat repentant about doing so and wondered whether he’d done the right thing after seeing how the divorce rate shot up as a result. He certainly didn’t intend to encourage people to get divorced. He never for a moment took his divorce lightly.

Last, but not least, the Gipper got it right the second time around. He found his soulmate in Nancy and loved her with all his heart, as she did him. There is no doubt about it, he couldn’t have become POTUS without her.

There is so much I could go on to say, but it’s mostly already been said. If anyone can think of a greater Major Dude than RWR, please let me know.