State Senators Want To Remember the Gipper

By KATE ELIZABETH QUERAM, Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 23, 2008) - February is full of days set aside for presidents - Washington and Lincoln's birthdays, not to mention Presidents Day - and come Feb. 6, Marylanders might have one more to add to their calendars.

That's Ronald Reagan's birthday, and several lawmakers want to see it christened Ronald Reagan Day in the heavily Democratic state where the Gipper went 1-1 in presidential elections.

The proposed day requires no monetary support, and would not mean a vacation day for students or state employees. Supporters of the resolution hope it would instead be used as a chance to teach about and reflect on Reagan's accomplishments.

Sen. Roy P. Dyson, D-St. Mary's, and Sen. Andy P. Harris, R-Baltimore County, two of the resolution's four co-sponsors, made their pitch before the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee Tuesday.

Harris is one of two state legislators running for the Republican nomination in the race for the 1st District's congressional seat currently held by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville. The other is Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Queen Anne's.

The legislation hits particularly close to home for Dyson, who as a member of Congress worked with then-President Reagan while serving on the House Armed Services Committee. Dyson related a number of personal anecdotes about the former president, including a story about a pair of cufflinks given to him by Reagan.

"I have a pair of cufflinks, he gave them to me and asked me to give them to my father who was dying that year," said Dyson, who brought the slightly rusty cufflinks to show the committee but forgot them in his car.

The recognition of Ronald Reagan Day is a goal of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, a group working to honor the 40th president. The Legacy Project aims to have something dedicated to him in every American county and former Communist nation. Current dedications include Ronald Reagan Avenue in Miami and the Ronald Reagan State Office Building in Los Angeles.

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