In his memoir, An American Life, Reagan remembered: “We pulled up in front of the hospital emergency entrance and I was first out of the limo and into the emergency room. A nurse was coming to meet me and I told her I was having trouble breathing. Then all of a sudden my knees turned rubbery. The next thing I knew I was lying face up on a gurney...”
David Emery, in his article Grace Under the Scalpel, has validated the report of the day's events and continues the story: “But it's also true that fully an hour went by between the moment Reagan was delivered to the emergency room and when he was anesthetized for surgery - time enough for him to regain enough composure to utter the famous quip. In fact, by all accounts, Reagan turned into a veritable joke machine during the hour-long wait.
The first words he uttered upon regaining consciousness were to a nurse who happened to be holding the president's hand. "Does Nancy know about us?" he quipped.
When Nancy herself arrived a few minutes later, Reagan greeted her with the comment, "Honey, I forgot to duck." (He was quoting prizefighter Jack Dempsey, who had said the same thing to his own wife after losing the heavyweight championship to rival Gene Tunney in 1926.)
Reagan even found occasion to pay homage to W.C. Fields. When a nurse asked him how he was feeling, he responded, "All in all, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." (The original line, which Fields had proposed for his own epitaph, was: "On the whole, I would rather be in Philadelphia.")
And, according to Edwin Meese, Reagan's Attorney General, the President stumped him and other members of the White House staff with the greeting, "Who's minding the store?" …
But the coup de grace, the witticism most repeated and best remembered from that dark day, was delivered by the President as he was being moved from gurney to operating table just before surgery… "Please tell me you're (all) Republicans."…
Dr. Joseph Giordano ... headed the George Washington University Hospital trauma team that operated on Reagan… Giordano, a liberal Democrat, said, "Mr. President, we're all Republicans today."*
As I write this blog, we are less than two weeks away from one of the most significant presidential elections in history. It is also one of the most contentious. As an evangelical Christian, it is my intention to examine the position of each candidate as well as the platform of the party he represents, then to ascertain which of these most closely represents the morals, values, and convictions I hold dear, and finally, having prayed over this matter, to cast my vote in a manner that best honors God. I certainly hope you will do the same.
At the same time, it is my responsibility to behave in a civil manner and not to allow my witness to be damaged by engaging in the sort of caustic rhetoric and behavior that so often accompanies such hotly contested elections. Perhaps we would all do well to follow the example of Dr. Giordano above by remembering that we are first and foremost Americans, and only then are we members of our respective political parties.
And, for those of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ, perhaps we would do well to remember that just as our citizenship trumps our party affiliation, even so our faith transcends and supersedes all matters earthly, including our words and our actions. Please let your Christian convictions drive your earthly convictions - be they moral, civil, or political.
Paul reminds us as believers in Philippians 3:20 that, ultimately, our citizenship is in Heaven. Jesus does the same thing in both John 8 and John 15. At the same time, we do have the responsibility to render unto Caesar what belongs to him. I take this to mean that we are to practice responsible citizenship, and thus, the exercise of basic constitutional rights - including both the right to engage in the public discourse and the right to determine leadership and direction for our country through the ballot box.
Nevertheless, as believers, we must always do these things in a manner that, first, befits our Christian character and that, second, does not besmirch our Christian testimony. I trust this will be the case.