Memorable Ronald Reagan Quotes

Posted 6/7/04

"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done." --- Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, " 'The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.' " --- Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

"We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. There are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great republic."  Second inaugural address, Jan. 21, 1985

"[G]overnment's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." --- Remarks to the White House Conference on Small Business, August 15, 1986.

"It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work -- work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it." --- First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981

"We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development." --- speech on September 29, 1981.

"The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge  and pray God we have not lost it  that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest."  On 40th anniversary of Normandy invasion, June 6, 1984.

"If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate ... open this gate ... tear down this wall."  June 1987 speech at Brandenberg Gate of Berlin near the Iron Curtain. Remarks addressed to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Reagan, like John F. Kennedy more than two decades before, made his critical point in German, expressing "this unalterable belief: 'Es gibt nur ein Berlin'  There is only one Berlin."

"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," Reagan spoke with unshakable resolve.

"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

[On Oct. 3, 1990, Germany  and with it, Berlin  reunited, the communist east merging with the capitalist west.]

"The years ahead will be great ones for our country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization. The West will not contain Communism, it will transcend Communism. We will not bother to denounce it, we'll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written." --- Notre Dame University, May 17, 1981

"I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering those nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete." --- Address to the Nation, March 23, 1983

"Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions." --- Address to students at Moscow State University, May 31, 1988

"I was pleased last year to proclaim 1983 the year of the Bible. But, you know, a group called the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) severely criticized me for doing that. Well, I wear their indictment like a badge of honor."  January 1984.

"Some argue that we should encourage democratic change in right-wing dictatorships, but not in Communist regimes. Well, to accept this preposterous notion  as some well-meaning people have  is to invite the argument that once countries achieve a nuclear capability, they should be allowed an undisturbed reign of terror over their own citizens. We reject this course."  June 1982 speech to British Parliament.

"This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan for ourselves."  Oct. 27, 1964, televised speech for GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

"I'm afraid I can't use a mule. I have several hundred up on Capitol Hill." refusing a gift of a mule.

"Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last." --- Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

"Honey, I forgot to duck."  To Nancy Reagan in the emergency room after he was shot by a would-be assassin, March 30, 1981.

"If I ache, it's because we are apart and yet that can't be because you are inside and a part of me, so we really aren't apart at all. Yet I ache but wouldn't be without the ache, because that would mean being without you and that I can't be because I love you."  1963 letter to his wife, Nancy.
"The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and `slipped the surly bonds of earth' to `touch the face of God.'"  After shuttle disaster, Jan. 28, 1986.

"You know, by the time you reach my age, you've made plenty of mistakes if you've lived your life properly. So you learn. You put things in perspective. You pull your energies together. You change. You go forward. My fellow Americans, I have a great deal that I want to accomplish with you and for you over the next two years. And, the Lord willing, that's exactly what I intend to do."  March 4, 1987 speech.

"So, you can see why, to me, the story of these last eight years and this presidency goes far beyond any personal concerns. It is a continuation, really, of a far larger story, a story of a people and a cause. A cause that, from our earliest beginnings, has defined us as a nation and given purpose to our national existence. The hope of human freedom, the quest for it, the achievement of it, is the American saga."  Last weekly radio address as president, Jan. 14, 1989.

"Now, as most of you know, I'm not one for looking back. I figure there will be plenty of time for that when I get old. But rather, what I take from the past is inspiration for the future, and what we accomplished during our years at the White House must never be lost amid the rhetoric of political revisionists." --- RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 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. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."  Nov. 5, 1994, announcing he had Alzheimer's disease.


"I pray that as America reflects on the passing of my dad, they will remember a man of integrity, conviction and good humor that changed America and the world for the better," son Michael Reagan said. "He would modestly say the credit goes to others, but I believe the credit is his.""Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere." (joint statement by former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton, June 2004).

"He restored a kind of confidence in the presidency, and a better mood in the United States about politics and politicians and about the presidency." (presidential historian Robert Dallek)

"A sad hour in the life of America," President George W. Bush said in Paris, where he is participating in D-Day Memorial events. He said Reagan "leaves behind a nation he restored and a world he helped save."

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan's conservative counterpart across the Atlantic in the 1980s, invoked the "millions of men and women who live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued."

"Whether you agreed or disagreed with Ronald Reagan, you can't deny that he was honest, fought hard for what he believed in, and had the courage of his convictions," said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

"Ronald Reagan always inspired me to be a leader, to do what I can to help make our country stronger. I did not just admire him, I was fortunate enough to know him. He was a hero to me," California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican like Reagan, said in an emotional statement.

"Reagan brought a constellation of virtues to the office of the presidencyguts, compassion, humor, a lack of pretension, a willingness to face the world and tell the truth, a willingness to make decisions and stand by themand his leadership changed the world, and for the better. As president, he was a giant." --- Peggy Noonan, adding that Reagan had "a magical way of expressing himself," stating that he was a "terrific" boss, fair and kindhearted.

"President Reagan brought back grace, strength and class to the American presidency," said New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat. "He restored the nation's pride at a time when our collective spirits were low."

[Side note: For many months, I've been predicting that Gov. Richardson will be the Democratic candidate for vice president. Sen. Kerry is still wondering about it, perhaps?]

Ronald Reagan's optimism was an inspiration to America, Senator John Kerry said, praising the former Republican president as an honest broker between political parties... because of the way President Reagan led, he taught us that there is a big difference between strong beliefs and bitter partisanship. Today in the face of new challenges, his example reminds us that we must move forward with optimism and resolve. He was our oldest president, but he made America young again."

New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, offered a remembrance with imagery worthy of Reagan himself, saying: "The sun has set on the remarkable life of the great man who reminded us it is always morning in America."


Reagan's Great Message:

The poet called Miss Liberty's torch, "the lamp beside the golden door." Well, that was the entrance to America, and it still is. And now you really know why we're here tonight.

The glistening hope of that lamp is still ours. Every promise every opportunity is still golden in this land. And through that golden door our children can walk into tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America.

Her heart is full; her torch is still golden, her future bright. She has arms big enough to comfort and strong enough to support, for the strength in her arms is the strength of her people. She will carry on in the Eighties unafraid, unashamed, and unsurpassed.

In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal; America's is.

RNC speech, August 23, 1984

There will never be another Ronald Reagan. Yet, how many lives he inspired!



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site