Thursday, April 24 2014 3:47 PM EDT2014-04-24 19:47:30 GMT
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It's hard to believe it's been over twenty years. And, yes, we knew it was special when Britain's Margaret Thatcher played Toledo.
It was January of 1992. Her "Iron Lady" reputation had already been secured … her friendship with former President, and fellow conservative, Ronald Reagan well documented.
The visit to Toledo's Seagate Centre was part of the "Toledo After Hours" series. The Junior League brought many high-profile world leaders to town in those days --- Margaret Thatcher, Norman Schwarzkopf, Shimon Peres and, in 1999, Poland's Lech Walesa among them. But for those of us in the media, the exposure was limited to rather brief question-and-answer sessions which proceeded the private dinners and lectures which would follow. I don't recall anything remarkable coming from Ms. Thatcher's exchange with the media. At one point, when asked a question about U.S.-Japanese trade policies, she admitted not being that familiar with the issue. I appreciated the candor.
Of course Toledo is Toledo and I always appreciate the willingness of people to express their opinions. The Thatcher visit was not without its protestors. A sign-carrying group marched and chanted outside the Seagate Centre and later told us their beef was with England lifting sanctions against South Africa while Thatcher was in charge. They urged her to go home.
And even back then, security was a big issue and people looking down from nearby windows made some reporters wonder just how secure this setting was. A police command officer told us "Scotland Yard is satisfied ….", so I guess we had nothing to worry about.
I do understand the desire to keep these visits "private" … after all, people were paying some serious cash for tickets to the dinner and lecture. Much of Ms. Thatcher's talk, we were told later, centered on the rise and fall of communism. This tough ally had stood firmly with the Reagan administration in its execution of the waning days of the "cold war" which saw walls, and communism itself, fall.
Maybe it was her strength, her "Iron Lady" reputation, which makes it a bit more difficult to grasp that she is gone. But I'm fairly certain that for hundreds and hundreds of Toledoans who spent a January night with her in our city, she will never, ever be forgotten.