TAMPICO, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) — A celebration will be held in northwest Illinois early next month, marking the 100th birthday President Ronald Reagan.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Reagan was the only American president born in the state.
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Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is promoting the official Reagan 100th birthday celebration, which will be held near Reagan’s birthplace of Tampico, Ill.
He says Reagan is “an icon” in this country and his “roots are right here in Illinois.” Hastert says Reagan’s birthday is something people ought to celebrate.
Hastert says President Reagan’s greatest legacy has to be his role in helping to crumble the Soviet Union.
He says millions of Eastern Europeans owe their freedom, in part, to the fortitude shown by President Reagan in admonishing Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” while standing before the Berlin Wall.
Joan Johnson is president of the Ronald Reagan Birthplace Museum in Tampico, and says last year there were 2,500 visitors from 40 countries.
She says some tourists from Eastern Europe are “so extremely thrilled to be able to stand in the apartment where Ronald Reagan was born, and they feel he is their hero.”
Proceeds from the celebration of President Reagan’s 100th birthday will be used to put a statue of him as a child in the park where he used to play. The statue will cost $50,000, but only $17,000 has been raised so far.
The celebration will be the evening of Friday, Feb. 4, at the Deer Grove Golf Course in Deer Grove, which is near Tampico.
Tampico is about 180 miles west of Chicago. Its population is fewer than 800 people, but it is home to the Ronald Reagan Birthplace and Museum.
Reagan also lived briefly in Chicago. As a 4-year-old boy, he resided with his family in a three-flat at 832 E. 57th St. on the western edge of the Hyde Park neighborhood. He also announced his engagement to first wife Jane Wyman at the Chicago Theatre before their wedding in 1940.
Reagan died in 2004.