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Process Paper

I chose Ronald Reagan as my topic for this years History Day competition for
many reasons. Initially I didnt know a lot about Reagan. After some preliminary
research and a visit to the Reagan Library, I discovered he had an interesting foreign
policy legacy. Also, I found that he was a remarkable leader throughout his life as an
actor and politician. Overall, I chose Ronald Reagan as my topic because he
demonstrated an excellent example of executive leadership and created a legacy that
impacted the world.
To begin my research I read many websites and articles about Reagans foreign
policy. My class went on a field trip to a local college where I was able to find some
articles, learn how to search databases, and make an annotated bibliography. I then
found some books from the local library and purchased others. As part of my research
I conducted seven interviews; this has been my favorite part of the project so far. It
was an honor to interview George Shultz, Ronald Reagans Secretary of State, who
provided firsthand information about the Soviet negotiations, among other key facts
and character descriptions of Reagan. I also had an interview with author and radio
talk show host Michael Reagan, President Reagans son, who told some great stories
and information relevant to my topic. The third interview was with Pulitzer Prizewining author Edmund Morris, Reagans official biographer, who provided additional
firsthand information and analysis. I managed to speak to Suzanne Massie, who is
known as the woman who warmed the Cold War because she taught Reagan about
Russian culture, including the maxim trust, but verify. Twenty-year congressman
Bill McCollum, who is on the board of directors at the American Security Council
Foundation, was helpful to me because he explained the phrase peace through
strength, which I use in my thesis statement. My most riveting interview was with
famous Reagan critic Ward Churchill, who provided me a contrary perspective.

Lastly, I reached out to the Reagan Museum at Eureka College, and had an email
exchange with Anthony Glass, the curator and archivist there.
I chose to create a website because I had done exhibits before with other
projects and I wanted to try something new. To me, a website is like an online
exhibit. In working on the website Ive learned a plethora of new skills and
techniques. I feel like this is a more interactive project than if I had done an exhibit
and has allowed for multiple editing possibilities.
My project clearly relates to this years theme of Leadership and Legacy in
History. By articulating a clear vision, confronting tough issues head-on, and making
effective decisions, President Reagan proved himself to be an impactful leader.
Further, he demonstrated determined executive leadership through his assertive
buildup of the military, creations of the Strategic Defense Initiative, and shrewd
negotiations with the USSR. These actions cemented his legacy of ensuring peace
through strength. His staunch efforts promoted freedom worldwide and helped end
the Cold War.