Eureka College hosted its annual June 5 ceremony, the anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s death. Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932.
Tuesday’s ceremony on the 14th anniversary of Reagan’s death took on added significance as it was also the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Reagan’s political rival, Robert Kennedy.
Wreaths were placed at the Peace Garden by Carl Hirsch, Eureka College Class of 1955 and Bill King, a member of the Eureka College Board of Trustees and Class of 1971, representing all Eureka College alumni.
“We celebrate that ‘shining city on a hill’ where teeming people of all kinds, as Reagan said, will live together in harmony and peace,” said Eureka College President Jamel Santa Cruze Wright.
Featured speaker was Reagan author and historian Gene Kopelson. Kopelson is author of Reagan’s 1968 Dress Rehearsal: Ike, RFK, and Reagan’s Emergence as a World Statesman.
“They (Reagan and Robert Kennedy) are the political titans of the 1960s,” Kopelson said.
Kopelson detailed the rivalry between the two political icons, especially during Reagan’s first quest for the presidency in the late 1960s.
“Behind the scenes, (Reagan) had a mentor in politics and world affairs. That was Dwight Eisenhower,” Kopelson said. “People were not aware of that at all.”
Those in attendance also heard Reagan’s comments from a White House ceremony during which he presented Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, a Congressional Gold Medal. Coincidentally, that presentation took place June 5, 1981.