On March 6, 2016, Americans and foreigners alike mourned the death of Nancy Reagan, former first lady, actress, and legend, who now remains buried beside her husband at the Reagan Library. As we honor her legacy, it is important to reflect upon what made her a true American hero.

Early Life, Career, and Start as Mother and Wife

It was July 6, 1921, when Nancy Davis was introduced to the world. The daughter of an aspiring actress, it was no surprise that Nancy would enter the movie business. In 1949, only in her late twenties, Davis was given a seven-year contract with MGM Studios. Soon after, however, she learned that her name was one among many on the Hollywood blacklist, meaning she was falsely suspected of being a Communist sympathizer.

She reached out to future president and husband, Ronald Reagan, in November of 1949. Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild at the time. The two fell in love, and married on March 4, 1952, as they started a wonderful life together. The Reagan family consisted of four children: Patricia Ann, Ronald Prescott, and kids from Ronald Reagan’s previous marriage, Maureen and Michael.

Though extremely busy, the new mother remained faithful to her passion for cinema, starring in three films after marriage. Most notably was Hellcats of the Navy, which included the couple in a drama about World War II.

Roles in Politics and Ronald Reagan’s Life

After becoming governor of California in 1967, Ronald Reagan sought an even bigger responsibility, president of the United States. Nancy became reluctant when her husband announced he was running in 1976, but she eventually agreed and supported his candidacy. Though they lost the nomination to Gerald Ford, the power couple came back again and won the primary and general election in 1980.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan during the 1981 Inaugural Parade

The two Reagans during the 1981 Inaugural Parade

In 1982, the first lady spread awareness of drug abuse, travelling all over the country to speak to Americans. It was through her “Just Say No” campaign that the National Crusade for a Drug Free America Act was signed into law in during Reagan’s second term.

In 1994, disaster striked. Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and was in dire need for a caretaker. The former first lady immediately took responsibility, and displayed her love through relentless devotion to her husband. After Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004, she became the outspoken supporter of stem cell research, which still remains as a controversial subject, and was dedicated to the protection of her late husband’s legacy.

Nancy Davis Reagan will be remembered for her charm, grace, and service to our country. She led her life with dignity and compassion, always staying true to herself and her beloved husband. An inspiration for the United States as well as to the whole world, she will forever remain in our hearts.

“You learn something out of everything, and you come to realize more than ever that we’re all here for a certain space of time, and, and then it’s going to be over, and you better make this count.”- Nancy Reagan

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