I can’t believe that 30 years ago this month, I was in the Rose Garden with President Reagan, Vice President George Bush, SR, former Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole, the late Senator Lautenberg, and other legislators and dignitaries watching the President sign 21 into law. I was exhausted from the many late nights of advocating and convincing everyone this was the right thing to do. The press who were following us constantly asked me what I was going to wear to the bill signing ceremony and I said red. That outfit was bright red! The feelings of triumph and exhilaration were obvious from the photo you see. The reason I was laughing is because the President hesitated when it came time to sign and looked at me with a sly grin. I told him that if he didn’t sign it, I would. We both laughed. He signed, gave me the pen and I came home to sleep.
We could not have passed this bill without the tremendous help of so many people, not just the federal legislators who supported this bill but their aides and staff who spent many a late night helping us regroup when we suffered a minor defeat and plan our next strategy. Chuck Hurley and the National Safety Council were invaluable as was the late Congressman and Speaker Tip O’Neill and his staff. The press was by our sides constantly and the MADD chapters (mostly volunteers) and staff came though with flying colors, especially Anne Seymour, my assistant (and so much more).
Alas, I miss those campaigns when everything was all about saving lives and not about making money. This bill saved thousands of lives and it saddens me that when something saves thousands of lives, there are those who would like to change that by reducing the drinking age. We seem to be a destructive society wanting to legalize marijuana, which will kill more on our highways, lower the drinking age, which will kill more on our highways and minimize the fines and sanctions for texting and driving which kills more on our highways. That is why I love this photo. It was a sign of victory, hope for the future and all about saving lives.
We Save Lives will be launching our own campaigns soon. Keep watching . . .