Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Greatest Communicator

Over a year ago I read a book about Ronald Reagan's ability to communicate. I've been thinking about a the story the author wrote about in the first couple of pages and now may read the book all over again.  The author started the book with this:

"On February 23, 1984, I walked into the Oval Office and found the president standing beside his desk holding what appeared to be a photograph.

"Mr. President, what's that you've got there?" I asked.

"Well, Dick, I just got of the phone with this young man."

As the president turned the photograph around for me to view, I winced at the haunting image staring me in the face. It was the picture of a twelve-year-old boy who had been severely burned while attempting to rescue his two younger brothers when their family's trailer caught fire. The first brother he found easily, and simply passed through the window. Saving the second brother, however, proved much more difficult. While frantically searching through the flaming trailer, the young man sustained severe burns before carrying his sibling to safety. As a result, the president explained, the boy's face and body had been seriously scarred and disfigured.

"I called this little fella to see how he was doing and to tell him how proud I was of his heroism, Reagan said.

Still shaken by the image, I struggled to get something out.

"I'm sure he appreciated your call, Mr. President."

As he looked back down at the little boy's visage, a smile spread slowly across the president's face. "Dick, at the end of our conversation the youngster said, 'President Reagan, I sure wish I would have had my tape recorder on so I could remember our call together.' So I said, 'Do you have it there?' He said he did. So I told him, 'Well, son, turn it on and let's chat some more.'"

The Greatest Communicator by Dick Wirthlin

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