President Reagan focused not only upon the family as the nation’s “moral core” but on children themselves in his annual State of the Union address last week.
“Tonight, I want to speak directly to America’s younger generation,” the President said, “because you hold the destiny of our nation in your hands.” Warning of the dangers of permissiveness, the President told young listeners that “the call of the future is too strong, the challenge too great, to get lost in the blind alleyways of dissolution, drugs, and despair.”
And to underscore that message, Mr. Reagan saluted the achievements of four young people, whom the Reagans had invited to attend the speech.
Addressing his guests, the President said: “We look at you and know it is true--in this land of dreams fulfilled where greater dreams may be imagined, nothing is impossible, no victory is beyond our reach, no glory will ever be too late.”
Of Richard Cavoli, 21, a student at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., who had developed an experiment carried on the Challenger shuttle mission, Mr. Reagan said: “All his life he has been enthralled by the mysteries of medicine and science. Richard, we know that the experiment that you began in high school was launched and lost last week. Yet, your dream lives. And as long as it is real, work of noble note will yet be done--work that could reduce the harmful effects of X-rays on patients, and enable astronomers to view the golden gateways of the farthest stars.”
Of Tyrone Ford, 12, of Washington, D.C., the President said: “We see the dream glow in the flowering talent of 12-year-old Tyrone Ford. A child prodigy of gospel music, he has surmounted personal adversity to become an accomplished pianist and singer. He also directs the choirs of three churches and has performed at the Kennedy Center. With God as our composer, Tyrone, your music will be the music of angels.”
Tyrone, a 6th grader at the Sacred Heart School, is studying at the 12th-grade level.
The President noted the courage of Shelby Butler, 13, of St. Joseph, Mo., who was on safety-patrol duty when she lunged into the path of an out-of-control bus to pull a little girl to safety.
And the President said: “We see the dream born again in the joyful compassion of 13-year-old Trevor Ferrell.” Two years ago, Trevor, who lives in Gladwyne, Pa., organized a volunteer campaign to cook and deliver meals and clothing to the destitute in the Philadelphia area. “Trevor, yours is the living spirit of brotherly love,” President Reagan said.
A version of this article appeared in the February 12, 1986 edition of Education Week