Eighteen years ago the President and Mrs. Reagan paid a visit to a College Park Maryland family after learning that someone had burned a cross on their front lawn. It didn't matter that the incident had occurred five years earlier. President Reagan made the trip which seemed to carry no political benefit.
In fact, it caused a lot of problems for the College Park couple. Barbara and Phillip Butler are still holding on to the jar of jellybeans that President Reagan carried for their four year old Daughter Nathasha when he came to visit back in 1982.
The President had read the morning of his visit that the College Park Couple had been awarded $23-thousand in damages for a cross burning on their front yard. The event drew local and national attention.
The couple had no way of knowing their white neighbors would resent the attention the President's visit brought to College Park; and were in no way prepared for the attacks from blacks who were angered by the President's policies.
It wasn't just one visit with the Reagans; the Butlers and daughter were invited to the White House twice for their personal tour and visit.
So this week while the Country bids farewell to its 40th president; Barbara and Phillip Butler are saying goodbye to two old friends.
Phillip Butler is a Republican. Barbara is a Democrat. Their daughter Natasha is a member of the Air Force Reserves at Andrews. She is on active duty cause of the War in Iraq.
The couple now lives in Silver Spring, they stayed in College Park for nearly Nine years, and both are retired from the Government Printing Office.
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Written by Bruce Johnson