My mother remembers a time when America was a different and in many ways a better place. Hearing, say, Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” brings it back to her: the sounds and sights and people and sentiments of that earlier time, a remembered landscape that is a treasured part of her, and of her life and outlook.

For many of us in “Generation W” – we who have little in common with the Baby Boomers but already had our first mortgages and children when Gen X hit the headlines – the Reagan years are a touchstone in our remembered landscape. We remember where we were and how we felt during the events of that period; glimpses or audible snatches of them translate us immediately to that different, hopeful, more measured and orderly time…

The inaugural address he gave on that day – Tuesday, 20 January, 1981 – might well encourage the identification of good omens. I watched it live in the student union lounge with a crowd of fellow students. We were the last word in world-weary cynicism, of course, but I’m willing to bet the other students who were there remember it as vividly as I do. People were silent, unexpectedly attentive, unexpectedly impressed. This wasn’t Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon. Something different was going on. This was our time. Reagan, who would become our remembered landscape, called it “morning in America.”