I blinked back tears, surprised at the emotion stirred by the news. Margaret Thatcher has died.
Prime Minister Thatcher was at the center of my 20-something love affair with Great Britain. I visited England twice in the early 1980s, invited by my childhood pen pal to spend a week in her home in Southampton. Mrs. Thatcher was a major celebrity to me and to most Americans who paid attention to what was going on in the world during the cold war era of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
I was a young newspaper reporter at the time and my social conscience was just being awakened. Maggie Thatcher was my hero. To stand before Number 10 Downing Street in London and realize that the Prime Minister was inside gave me a greater thrill than the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
The Iron Lady (so dubbed by the Russians) exemplified everything a woman could become — strong, intelligent, idealistic — while still being a gentlewoman from the top of her teased coiffure to the hem of her bright blue suit. Maggie’s power had nothing to do with bra-burning or claiming equal wages for equal work or sexual freedom. While other women chanted and ranted, she went about the business of proving a woman can stand toe-to-toe with the male leaders of the world by just doing it. She didn’t care if she was liked, and often she wasn’t. What the Prime Minister did care about was the future of her country, and she held strong to her belief that her conservative vision would bring needed change to Great Britain. It would start with individuals. In her words:
“We believe that everyone has the right to be unequal, but to us every human being is equally important.”
The Heritage Foundation posted a great video on Monday summarizing Margaret Thatcher’s contribution to personal freedom in the world.
The Foundation’s Ed Fuelner said this about Thatcher: “Great Britain and the world have lost a great leader. The Heritage Foundation, like all of America, has lost a faithful ally…..Lady Thatcher now takes her place in history alongside Sir Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington and all the other great British heroes who defeated enemies of their island nation. An intrepid warrior for freedom and human dignity, Prime Minister Thatcher stood with her ‘noble friend,’ President Ronald Reagan, to confront the Soviet empire when it was at its peak. Her courage and steadfastness earned the respect of her fiercest foes.”
And of impressionable young women looking for a standard-bearer worthy of her calling.