Last February, Andrew Wetherell attended the dedication of the first phase of the Can-Do Monument with his wife, Linda, and his son, Lance, who was Commanding Officer of the Temecula Valley High School’s Air Force JROTC Color Guard, headed by Colonel Jay Sweetnam, USAF (Ret.), and under the watchful eye of Chief Master Sergeant Jeffery “Chip” Dodson, USAF (Ret.), the main speaker at the dedication. Andrew Wetherell, retired Gunnery Sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps, was a Reagan fan as a pre-teen in the sixties. He loved Reagan’s role in the TV series, Death Valley Days. When Reagan left the show, he was upset and wanted to know why. His Dad explained, “He was elected Governor of California.”
Years later, he served in the Marines as a buck sergeant during the Reagan Presidency. His admiration for the Commander-in-Chief only grew stronger after the death of 241 U.S. Marines who were part of an international peace keeping force in Beirut, Lebanon. Jihadists admitted setting a pair of suicide truck bombs on October 23, 1983. Wetherell recalls, “Days later, the President went on national TV, telling the American people he, and only he, was responsible for the unfortunate death toll. The President said, ‘The buck stops here,’ as he looked into the camera, while sitting in the oval office. He showed the American people he was Commander-in-Chief and the meaning of that is total leadership. He then withdrew all American forces from Lebanon."
“Then, on January 28, 1986, shortly after lift-off, when the NASA shuttle Challenger broke apart, killing all seven astronauts aboard, President Reagan once again addressed the American people as a leader, father figure and a grieving American citizen. The sorrow he and all the world felt about the loss of those great American heroes was evident. He was able to comfort and console the country with compassion and honesty, saying sometimes people stumble and fall while trying to strive towards greatness.”
Wetherell’s respect for the President grew exponentially by his taking on the responsibility of a great leader.” Wetherell wants to see this Monument completed. Thursday, he met two Friends of Ronald Reagan SP to present a $1,000 donation toward the completion of the Monument. Perry Peters, FRRSP president, accepted the donation and thanked Wetherell on behalf of his 501(c)(3) all-volunteer non-profit, and showed him where his name will appear on the monument as a donor. His vice president, Jeff Minkler, also was in attendance. Some $100,000 went into the construction of the first phase. With Wetherell’s donation, about $63,000 must still be raised to complete the second and final phase of construction.
The statues of a mother, father, son and daughter, doing volunteer work on the park, will be built with the money. The family represents all the volunteers who built the park without government funds. In the same spirit, only private donations to the monument are accepted. This is in keeping with the “traditional spirit of Americanism” that moved the rural Temecula Valley community -- without the help of government funds-- to create the sports park that was recognized by President Reagan in 1983, before Temecula became a city. The same initiative that built the park raised a significant part of the cost of the park’s Community Recreation Center and all the money that has been – and will be raised – to build the monument.
Encouraging individual initiative in young people is the main purpose of all FRRSP programs and projects. An essay contest for Temecula third and fourth graders focuses on the value of individual initiative. A $500 scholarship check and a Medallion of Initiative go to the Temecula or Murrieta high school senior with the most compelling personal Can-Do story to tell. A busload of Temecula or Murrieta middle schoolers are treated to a simulated crisis program offered by the Discovery Center at the Reagan Library. This program is not open to the public. The bus fare, a box lunch, a souvenir T-shirt and a tour of the Reagan Library are included as part of the unique learning experience. Awards are announced and / or presented at an annual Can-Do Day Celebration held on the anniversary week of Reagan’s March 3,1983 speech to the U.S. Olympic Committee in Los Angeles, when he recognized the Can-Do spirit of our local volunteers. Temecula was not yet a city. His words are etched on the monument that stands in Ronald Reagan Sports Park.
For more information, or to make a contribution to the Monument Fund or the Can-Do projects, call (951) 394-1963, or e-mail , or submit your gift on PayPal on this website.