40th president of the United States: 1981-1989
Born: Feb. 6, 1911, in Tampico, Ill.
Died: June 5, 2004, in Bel-Air, Calif.
Married to Nancy Davis Reagan
As the nation continues to mourn the death of its 40th president, it is appropriate to reflect on some of his words while in the White House. Our hope is they will serve as reminders of President Reagan's passion for freedom, his great desire to reduce Americans' dependence on government and his vision to restore "the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism."
From his inaugural address Jan. 20, 1981: "... (G)reat as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals. ...
"The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we've had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've 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. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price. ...
"We are a nation that has a government not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. 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.
"It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government. ..."
Remarks upon returning from China, delivered in Fairbanks, May 1, 1984: "... We went to China to advance the prospects for stability and peace throughout the world. And we went to illustrate, by our presence, our sincere desire for good relations. We went to meet again with the Chinese and review our concerns and our differences. And we went to China to further define our own two countries' relationship and, by defining it, advance it.
"And I feel that we have progress to report. I had long and thoughtful meetings with the Chinese leadership, comprehensive meetings. We each listened carefully to what the other had to say. We discussed and agreed to cooperate more closely in the areas of trade, investment, technology, and exchanges of scientific and managerial expertise. We concluded an important agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We agreed that in this imperfect world, peace in its most perfect form cannot always be reached but it must always be our goal. And we, the people of China and the United States, must make our best efforts to bring greater harmony between our two countries.
"It's a good thing for the world when those who are not allies remain open to each other. And it's good to remember that competitors sometimes have mutual interests, and those interests can make them friends. ..."
In a speech to the Tax Reform Action Coalition, May 14, 1986: "It was about a year ago when I called on Congress for a second American revolution. I spoke about the need to transform an unfair and overly complex system, a source of resentment and confusion, into a fair and simple tax code. One that would serve the general interest instead of the special interests, and one that would encourage business to grow and produce. I said then, and I still say, business leaders small and large should be permitted to quit spending their time concentrating on the tax angles and get back to thinking about supply and demand."
In a radio address to the nation on terrorism, May 31, 1986: "History is likely to record that 1986 was the year when the world, at long last, came to grips with the plague of terrorism. For too long, the world was paralyzed by the argument that terrorism could not be stopped until the grievances of terrorists were addressed. The complicated and heartrending issues that perplex mankind are no excuse for violent, inhumane attacks, nor do they excuse not taking aggressive action against those who deliberately slaughter innocent people. ...
"... Freedom fighters do not need to terrorize a population into submission. Freedom fighters target the military forces and the organized instruments of repression keeping dictatorial regimes in power. Freedom fighters struggle to liberate their citizens from oppression and to establish a form of government that reflects the will of the people. Now, this is not to say that those who are fighting for freedom are perfect or that we should ignore problems arising from passion and conflict.
"Nevertheless, one has to be blind, ignorant, or simply unwilling to see the truth if he or she is unable to distinguish between those I just described and terrorists. Terrorists intentionally kill or maim unarmed civilians, often women and children, often third parties who are not in any way part of a dictatorial regime. Terrorists are always the enemies of democracy. Luckily, the world is shaking free from its lethargy and moving forward to stop the bloodshed. ..."
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