Ronald Reagan

Great Quotes By: RONALD REAGAN

Address on behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater
Rendezvous with Destiny
October 27, 1964

If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. 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 them ourselves.… We have so many people who can’t see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion that the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they are going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer and they’ve had almost 30 years of it, shouldn’t we expect government to almost read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater, the program grows greater.… 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 last step into a thousand years of darkness.

Inaugural Address
January 29, 1981

I’m told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I’m deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.

Remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference Dinner
March 20, 1981

We’ve heard in our century far too much of the sounds of anguish from those who live under totalitarian rule. We’ve seen too many monuments made not out of marble or stone but out of barbed wire and terror. But from these terrible places have come survivors, witnesses to the triumph of the human spirit over the mystique of state power, prisoners whose spiritual values made them the rulers of their guards. With their survival, they brought us “the secret of the camps,” a lesson for our time and for any age: Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.

Address at Commencement Exercises at University of Notre Dame
May 17, 1981

The years ahead are great ones for this country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization. The West won’t contain communism, it will transcend communism. It won’t bother to dismiss or denounce it, it will dismiss it as some bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.

Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress Reporting on the State of the Union
January 26, 1982

We have made pledges of a new frankness in our public statements and worldwide broadcasts. In the face of a climate of falsehood and misinformation, we’ve promised the world a season of truth—the truth of our great civilized ideas: individual liberty, representative government, the rule of law under God. We’ve never needed walls or minefields or barbed wire to keep our people in. Nor do we declare martial law to keep our people from voting for the kind of government they want.

Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the United States Chamber of Commerce
April 26, 1982

I believe standing up for America also means standing up for the God who has so blessed this land. We’ve strayed so far, it may be later than we think. There’s a hunger in our land to see traditional values reflected in public policy again.
To those who cite the first amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just point out, the first amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values—it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.

Address to Members of the British Parliament
June 8, 1982

In an ironic sense Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxist-Leninism, the Soviet Union. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens.… What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term—the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.

Remarks at the Annual Convention of the United States League of Savings Associations in New Orleans, Louisiana
November 16, 1982

You know, thinking about what your group has been through reminds me of the story of the three gentlemen who had departed this Earth and were standing at the gates of heaven waiting for admittance. One was a surgeon, the other one an engineer, the third one an economist. They’d all been good, upright people, but it developed that there was only room inside for one. So St. Peter said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll pick the one who comes from the oldest profession.” The surgeon stepped right up, and he said, “Well, I’m your man. Right after God created Adam, he operated. He took a rib, created Eve, so surgery has to be the oldest profession.” And the engineer said, “No.” He said, “You see, before God created Adam and Eve, he took the chaos that prevailed and built Earth in 6 days. So, engineering had to precede surgery.” The economist spoke up and said, “Just a minute. Who do you think created all that chaos?”

Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Religious Broadcasters
January 31, 1983

The American people are hungry for your message, because they’re hungry for a spiritual revival in this land. When Americans reach out for values of faith, family, and caring for the needy, they’re saying, “We want the word of God. We want to face the future with the Bible.” …

We’re blessed to have its words of strength, comfort, and truth. I’m accused of being simplistic at times with some of the problems that confront us. But I’ve often wondered: Within the covers of that single Book are all the answers to all the problems that face us today, if we’d only look there. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.” …

I pledge to you that America will stand up, speak out, and defend the values we share. To those who would crush religious freedom, our message is plain: You may jail your believers. You may close their churches, confiscate their Bibles, and harass their rabbis and priests, but you will never destroy the love of God and freedom that burns in their hearts. They will triumph over you.

Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida
March 8, 1983

we must never forget that no government schemes are going to perfect man. We know that living in this world means dealing with what philosophers would call the phenomenology of evil or, as theologians would put it, the doctrine of sin. There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might.…

They [the Soviets] must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards. We will never give away our freedom. We will never abandon our belief in God.…

Let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness—pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

It was C. S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable “Screwtape Letters,” wrote: “The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.” …

You know, I’ve always believed that old Screwtape reserved his best efforts for those of you in the church. So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.…

While America’s military strength is important, let me add here that I’ve always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

Whittaker Chambers, the man whose own religious conversion made him a witness to one of the terrible traumas of our time, the Hiss-Chambers case, wrote that the crisis of the Western World exists to the degree in which the West is indifferent to God, the degree to which it collaborates in communism’s attempt to make man stand alone without God. And then he said, for Marxism-Leninism is actually the second oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation, “Ye shall be as gods.”

The Western World can answer this challenge, he wrote, “but only provided that its faith in God and the freedom He enjoins is as great as communism’s faith in Man.”

Remarks at a Cuban Independence Day Celebration in Miami, Florida
May 20, 1983

You know, they say there are only two places where communism works: in heaven, where they don’t need it—and in hell, where they’ve already got it.

Remarks at a Dinner Marking the 10th Anniversary of the Heritage Foundation
October 3, 1983

We must never be inhibited by those who say telling the truth about the Soviet empire is an act of belligerence on our part. To the contrary, we must continue to remind the world that self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly, that whatever the imperfections of the democratic nations, the struggle now going on in the world is essentially the struggle between freedom and totalitarianism, between what is right and what is wrong. This is not a simplistic or unsophisticated observation. Rather, it’s the beginning of wisdom about the world we live in, the perils we face, and the great opportunity we have in the years ahead to broaden the frontiers of freedom and to build a durable, meaningful peace.

Remarks at a Spirit of America Rally in Atlanta, Georgia
January 26, 1984

We are a nation under God. I’ve always believed that this blessed land was set apart in a special way, that some divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love for freedom and the courage to uproot themselves, leave homeland and friends, to come to a strange land. And coming here they created something new in all the history of mankind—a land where man is not beholden to government, government is beholden to man.

Remarks at the Annual Conservative Political Action Conference Dinner
March 2, 1984

The difference between the path toward greater freedom or bigger government is the difference between success and failure; between opportunity and coercion; between faith in a glorious future and fear of mediocrity and despair; between respecting people as adults, each with a spark of greatness, and treating them as helpless children to be forever dependent; between a drab, materialistic world where Big Brother rules by promises to special interest groups, and a world of adventure where everyday people set their sights on impossible dreams, distant stars, and the Kingdom of God. We have the true message of hope for America.

Remarks at a Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, D-day
June 6, 1984

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. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

Remarks at a Ceremony Honoring the 1983 – 1984 Winners in the Secondary School Recognition Program
August 27, 1984

You know, the jobs of principal and President are somewhat alike: both of us have to keep a lot of people happy. You have the PTA; I have the voters. And you have unruly children, and I have—well—I’d better not name names, but let me put it this way: When a Congress leaves town, it’s no accident we call it a recess.

Remarks at Naturalization Ceremonies for New United States Citizens in Detroit, Michigan
October 1, 1984

You’ll find, if you haven’t already, that this country is full of different and, sometimes, conflicting ideas and philosophies. Walk by a newspaper stand, and you’ll see scores of magazines and newspapers arguing this point and that. Listen to television and radio, and you’ll hear more than enough opinions with which to agree and disagree. In fact, if you don’t over the next several years find one time, at least, when you feel like taking off your shoe and throwing it at a television screen, then you will have missed out on one of the great American moments.

Remarks to Citizens in Hambach, Federal Republic of Germany
May 6, 1985

Let us ask ourselves: What is at the heart of freedom? In the answer lies the deepest hope for the future of mankind and the reason there can be no walls around those who are determined to be free. Each of us, each of you, is made in the most enduring, powerful image of Western civilization. We’re made in the image of God, the image of God, the Creator.

Remarks at the Veterans Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery
November 11, 1985

Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we’re little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God’s first intellectual gift to man: common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.

Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union
February 4, 1986

History is no captive of some inevitable force. History is made by men and women of vision and courage.

Remarks at a Dinner for the Republican Congressional Leadership
March 10, 1986

The people who created the mess still cannot bring themselves to admit that the culprit that wreaked such havoc and hardship on our people was their very own policies. I think America’s spectacular rebound underscores that our country wasn’t suffering from tired blood in the late 1970’s. It was suffering from tired ideas—wrong ideas. The liberals attribute all the success we’ve had in the last 5 years to luck, global trends, and the celestial effects of Halley’s Comet—anything and everything except the real source of our progress. The reason things have turned around is that we have come at the problems facing America with a fundamentally different philosophy than what preceded us. Liberals called on government to play an ever-increasing role in the lives of our people. They relied on central planning, regulations, and bureaucracy. Is there any doubt about why our country in the late 1970’s seemed to be humming along with all the efficiency of a Bulgarian shoe factory? If central planning were the way to a better world, we’d be importing our grain from the Soviet Union and not the other way around.…

There’s a story, incidentally, about a May Day parade in Moscow. First came the tanks and then the armored personnel carriers and the artillery and the missiles and then the marching troops with fixed bayonets, and finally at the end a black sedan with red flags flying and filled with men in gray suits. And a visitor from our part of the world who was there for the occasion asked a local citizen, “What is that?” And the fellow said, “That’s our most lethal weapon. They’re Socialist economists.”

Remarks at the Annual White House Correspondents Dinner
April 17, 1986

I’ve been criticized for going over the head of Congress. So what’s the fuss? A lot of things go over their heads.

Remarks to the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Manufacturers
May 29, 1986

You know, it’s said that if all the economists in the world were laid end to end they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion.

Message on the Observance of Independence Day, 1986
July 3, 1986

What was the secret that emboldened a loose confederation of some two and a half million settlers on the Eastern rimland of the New World to challenge the might of the most powerful colonial empire on earth?
Quite simply, it was the courage and the vision of our Founding Fathers. They seized the unique historical moment Providence had placed within their grasp. Determined to protect and guarantee fundamental human rights, they felt called upon to bring our nation into being.

In order to give that new nation shape and direction they drew freely on the riches of the Judeo-Christian tradition with its central affirmation that God, not chance, rules in the affairs of men, and that each of us has an inviolable dignity because we have been fashioned in the image and likeness of our Creator. The Founding Fathers established a nation under God, ruled not by arbitrary decrees of kings or the whims of entrenched elites but by the consent of the governed. Theirs was the vision of a striving, God-fearing, self-reliant people living in the sunlight of justice and breathing the bracing air of liberty.

Remarks on Signing the Captive Nations Week Proclamation
July 21, 1986

So many who live under communism see us as their only hope. This is the case even though there are governments that portray the United States as a horrible place. There’s a story of a dissident who, when he was sentenced to a labor camp in one of those countries, complained to the judge that his sentence was too light. He said, “If the United States is as bad as you say it is, send me there.”

Remarks to State Chairpersons of the National White House Conference on Small Business
August 15, 1986

It’s wonderful to be having this White House Conference on Small Business again after almost 6 years. Things certainly have changed in the meantime. Back then, government’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 on East-West Relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin
June 12, 1987

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! …

As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner, “This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.” Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

Remarks at Moscow State University
May 31, 1988

Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuing revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows us to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions. It is the right to put forth an idea, scoffed at by the experts, and watch it catch fire among the people. It is the right to dream—to follow your dream or stick to your conscience, even if you’re the only one in a sea of doubters. Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer.…

Freedom, it has been said, makes people selfish and materialistic, but Americans are one of the most religious peoples on Earth. Because they know that liberty, just as life itself, is not earned but a gift from God, they seek to share that gift with the world. “Reason and experience,” said George Washington in his Farewell Address, “both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. And it is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” Democracy is less a system of government than it is a system to keep government limited, unintrusive; a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.

Farewell Address to the Nation
January 11, 1989

Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying, back in 1982, that “The engines of economic growth have shut down here, and they’re likely to stay that way for years to come.” Well, he and the other opinion leaders were wrong. The fact is, what they called “radical” was really “right.” What they called “dangerous” was just “desperately needed.”

And in all of that time I won a nickname, “The Great Communicator.” But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn’t spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation—from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.

President Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Letter
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 day 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.

Selected by Dr. Alan Snyder