In Memoriam
1911 — 2004

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Ronald W. Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, a Lifetime of Individual Freedom …

In His Commencement Speech to the Class of 1957, Eureka College, June 7, 1957:

    "This irreconcilable conflict is between those who believe in the sanctity of individual freedom and those who believe in the supremacy of the state."

In a Televised Speech Supporting Barry Goldwater, October 27, 1964:

    "You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down — up to a man’s age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course."

In a Speech to the First Annual Conservative Political Action Conference, January 25, 1974:

    "The culmination of men's dreams for 6,000 years were formalized with the Constitution, probably the most unique document ever drawn in the long history of man’s relation to man. I know there have been other constitutions, new ones are being drawn today by newly emerging nations. Most of them, even the one of the Soviet Union, contain many of the same guarantees as our own Constitution, and still there is a difference. The difference is so subtle that we often overlook it, but it is so great that it tells the whole story. Those other constitutions say, ‘Government grants you these rights,’ and ours says, ‘You are born with these rights, they are yours by the grace of God, and no government on earth can take them from you.’"

In a Speech "To Restore America," During His 1976 Campaign for the Presidency, March 31, 1976:

    "Well, I don’t believe the people I’ve met in almost every State of this Union are ready to consign this, the last island of freedom, to the dust bin of history, along with the bones of dead civilizations of the past. Call it mysticism, if you will, but I believe God had a divine purpose in placing this land between the two great oceans to be found by those who had a special love of freedom and the courage to leave the countries of their birth. From our forefathers to our modern-day immigrants, we’ve come from every corner of the earth, from every race and every ethnic background, and we’ve become a new breed in the world. We’re Americans and we have a rendezvous with destiny."

In His First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981:

    "From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? … We are a nation that has a government — not the other way around. … Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed."

In His Second State of the Union Address, January 26, 1982:

    "We intend to keep the peace — we will also keep our freedom."

In a Speech to the British House of Commons, June 8, 1982:

    "The hard evidence of totalitarian rule has caused in mankind an uprising of the intellect and will. Whether it is the growth of the new schools of economics in America or England or the appearance of the so-called new philosophers in France, there is one unifying thread running through the intellectual work of these groups — rejection of the arbitrary power of the state, the refusal to subordinate the rights of the individual to the superstate, the realization that collectivism stifles all the best human impulses."

In His Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 1985:

    "America must remain freedom's staunchest friend, for freedom is our best ally."

In a Televised Address to the Nation, November 14, 1985:

    "I love freedom not only because it’s practical and beneficial, but because it is morally right and just."

In His Speech at the Brandenburg Gate, City of West Berlin, June 12, 1987:

    "After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor. And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. … We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

In His Address to the Future Farmers of America, July 28, 1988:

    "There seems to be an increasing awareness of something we Americans have known for some time — that the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are ‘Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’"

In His Farewell Address From the Oval Office, January 11, 1989:

    "I’ve spoken of the shining city [upon a hill] all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still. And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home."

In His Address to the 1992 Republican National Convention, August 17, 1992:

    "And let us all renew our commitment. Renew our pledge to day by day, person by person, make our country and the world a better place to live. Then when the nations of the world turn to us and say, ‘America, you are the model of freedom and prosperity.’ We can turn to them and say, ‘you ain't seen nothing, yet!’"

In a Letter to the American Public Announcing His Affliction With Alzheimer’s Disease, November 5, 1994:

    "In closing let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your President. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future."

[Posted June 9, 2004]

Tribute images courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation,
all rights reserved.