Eulogy for Ronald Reagan
delivered 11 June 2004, National Cathedral,
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text
version below transcribed directly from audio]
When Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, the
York Times wrote, "Men will thank God
[in their knees] a hundred years from now that Franklin D.
Roosevelt was in the White House."
It will not take
a hundred years
to thank God for Ronald Reagan.
Why was he so admired?
Why was he so
He was beloved, first,
because of what he was. Politics can be cruel, uncivil. Our friend was strong
Once he called America "hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair." That was America and,
yes, our friend.
And next, Ronald Reagan was
beloved because what he believed. He believed in America, so he made it his
shining city on a hill.
He believed in freedom, so he acted on behalf of its
values and ideals.
He believed in tomorrow, so The Great Communicator became The
He talked of winning one
"for the Gipper" and as
President, through his relationship with
Gorbachev, with us today, the Gipper and, yes, Mikhail Gorbachev
won one for
peace around the world.
If Ronald Reagan created a
better world for many millions it was because of the world someone else created
for him. Nancy was there for him
always. Her love for him provided much of his strength, and their love together
transformed all of us as we've seen -- renewed seeing again here in the last few
And one of the many
memories we all have of both of them is the comfort they provided during our
national tragedies. Whether it was the families
of the crew of the Challenger shuttle, or the
USS Stark, or the
Marines killed in
Beirut, we will never forget those images of the President and First
embracing them and embracing us during times of sorrow.
So, Nancy, I want to say
this to you: Today, America embraces you. We open up our arms. We seek to
comfort you, to tell you of our admiration for your courage and your selfless
And to the Reagan kids
it's okay for me to say that at 80 --
Patti, today all of our
sympathy, all of our condolences to you all. And remember, too, your sister
Maureen, home safe now with her father.
As his Vice President for
eight years, I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in
all my years of public life. I learned kindness; we all did. I also learned
courage; the nation did.
Who can forget the horrible
March 1981, he looked at the doctors in the emergency room and said, "I
hope you're all Republicans."1
And then I learned decency;
the whole world did. Days after being shot, weak from wounds, he spilled water
from a sink, and entering the hospital -- hospital room, aides saw him on his hands and knees
wiping water from the floor. He worried that his nurse would get in trouble. The
book -- Good Book says, "humility
goes before honor."2
And our friend had both, and who could not cherish such a
And perhaps as important as
anything, I learned about -- a lot about humor, a lot about laughter. And, oh, how
President Reagan loved a good story. When asked, "How did your
visit go with Bishop Tutu?," he replied, "So-so." It was typical. It was
And in leaving
-- in leaving the White
House, the very last day, he left in the yard outside the Oval Office door a
little sign for the squirrels. He loved to feed those squirrels. And he left
this sign that said, "Beware of the dog," and to no avail, because our dog
Millie came in and beat the heck out of the squirrels.
But anyway, he also left me
a note, at the top of which said, "Don't let the turkeys get you down." Well, he certainly never
let [them] get him down. And he fought hard for his beliefs. But he led from
conviction, but never made an adversary into an enemy. He was never
Reverend Billy Graham, who
I refer to as the nation's pastor, is now hospitalized and regrets that he can't
be here today. And I asked him for a Bible passage that might be appropriate.
And he suggested this from Psalm 37: "The Lord delights in the way of the man
whose steps he has made firm. Though he stumble, he will not fall for the Lord
upholds him with his hand." And then this, too, from
[Psalm] 37: "There is a future for the man of peace."
God bless you, Ronald
Wilson Reagan and the nation you loved and led so well.
Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by
Accounts vary on the exact quotation. Reagan
recalls saying, "I hope you're a
Republican" (to an attending physician). Peggy Noonan
recalls it as "I just hope you're
Republicans [to the the emergency personnel).
Image #1 Source:
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