Ronald Reagan Library Opening Ceremonies
November 4, 1991 Simi Valley, California
recorded for the documentary film "Post No Bills"
transcription and photo by Clay Walker
ANNOUNCER. ...of the library and I don't know anybody who's gonna go in there hurry 'em and just as soon as they finish, we will get going here. Now ten minutes, ten minutes after the Presidents and the First Ladies leave the stage today, the library will be open and everybody here is invited to go in and take the tour. There will also be refreshment stands, food and the whole thing for you so I guess what I am really asking you is not to try to everybody, at one time to get off the top of this hill 'cause it is not going to work so understand that and please go in and enjoy the tour of the library.
While they finish their tour, we're gonna have just a couple more selections and then we will be able to get going. So they are enjoying their tour. Is it gonna be the army or the airforce now or both?
The United States' Army Chorus now is going to sing another song.
ANNOUNCER. These are the Ronald Reagan Presidential foundation and their spouses, the honorable Edward Meese the III and Ursula Meese, Ambassador Walter Annenberg and Ambassador Leonore Annenberg, the Co-Chairman of the Dedication event, Lew R. Wasserman and Edie Wasserman, the Honorable John S. Herrington and Honorable Louis Herrington, Mr. Joe Haberton and Barbie Haberton, Dr. Martin Anderson and Dr. Annalise Anderson, the Honorable William P. Clark and Joan Clark, Mr. Malcolm S. Forbes Junior, the Honorable Frederick J. Ryan Junior and Genevieve Ryan, Mrs. Mary Jan Wick and the Honorable Charles Z. Wick, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees as well as the Chairman of the Dedication Ceremonies, Mr. Lodwrick M. Cook and Carole Cook, the foundation's emeritus member and special guest, Ms. Jean Smith, wife of the late Attorney General William F. Smith, the Archivist of the United States Mr. Don Wilson...
...and the members of our American Presidential families Mr. James Roosevelt, Mr. Curtis Roosevelt, Ms. Julianne Roosevelt, Mrs. Lucy Johnson and her husband, Mr. Ian Turpin, Ms. Maureen Reagan and her husband, Mr. Dennis Revel, Mr. Michael Reagan and his wife, Colleen Reagan, Mr. Ron Reagan, Mrs. Caroline Kennedy, Mr. John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Ladies and gentlemen, our other honored guest, the wife of the late President of Egypt, Mrs. Anwar Sadat. The Senior Pastor of the Bel Air Presbyterian church, the Reverend Donn D. Moomaw and Mrs. Moomaw, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United States General Colin Powell and Mrs. Alma Powell, the Governor of the state of California and Mrs. Pete Wilson.
First ladies, the First Lady of the United States Mrs. Barbara Bush and Mrs. Nancy Reagan, Mrs. Rosalind Carter, Mrs. Betty Ford and Mrs. Pat Nixon and Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson.
...of the United States accompanied by the 40th President Ronald Reagan, the 39th President Jimmy Carter, the 38th President Gerald Ford and the 37th President Richard Nixon.
(music "Hail to the Chief")
CHARLTON HESTON. Twenty some years, on a January day at high noon on the west front of the Capitol, each of these five men has taken part in an event unique in the world, without force or coercion, with neither the threat of military violence nor parliamentary abrasion, each in his turn has accepted in peaceful transfer the most awesome power and influence ever put in the hand of a single human being. The man who holds this power, in the fullness of time, passes it on in civil and genial obedience to the customs of two centuries.
Each of these men inherited more than just a constitutional legacy, each will be forever wrapped in legend and myth, each has carried a burden of responsibility that has no known counterpart in the world. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush are the lineal descendent of Washington and Adams, Jefferson and Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt. Through them, they are linked to the very birth year of our Republic.
The Presidents, what do we pray for him? What do we wish from them? What can he pledge to us? What can we say or do to help him? It's been said that the creation of the United States is the greatest political act of mankind. How did that happen? What brought about that extraordinary confluence of time, place, circumstance, a concerted effort of a people in arms and a few great men.
How did the line continue through two centuries, to these five who stand here with us, having borne, still bearing, the awesome weight of the Republic? Why has it worked so long? and so well? Was it our system? Surely that's part of it. The American dream which is not success, but freedom. It's not that only though. Other countries have cherished that dream and lost it but what then? Are we smarter? Is it luck? Are we more determined? Is it the grace of God? I think it is in part the land itself, that broad swell of continent between those shining seas.
From the very beginning, before we were Americans, as a people we were captivated by the land. "We belonged to the land before the land was ours," Carl Sandburg wrote. American writers have been exploring this country and its history from the beginning.
Reading what some of them have written over all these years I was struck by how readily fragments, sentences of what they wrote fell almost by themselves into one paragraph. They seem to speak with one voice. Here are the words of seven men: Martin Luther King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Paine, Samuel Elliot Morrison, William Faulkner, Thomas Woolf and Abraham Lincoln about America and Americans. "I have a dream, I refuse to accept the end of man. I believe he will endure, he will prevail, man is immortal not because alone among God's creatures, he has a voice, but because he has the soul, a spirit, capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
About America, and Americans, this is particularly true, it's a fabulous country, the only, fabulous country where miracles not only happen, they happen all the time. As a nation we have perhaps uniquely a special willingness of the heart, a blithe fearlessness, a simple yearning righteousness and justice that ignited in our revolution the flame of freedom that cannot be stamped out. That is the living truthful spirit of this country.
These are the times that try men's souls. The sunshine patriot and the summer soldier will in this crisis shrink from service. But he who stands and bears it now will earn the thanks of men and women. We must bind up the nation's wounds, reaffirming the right as god gives us to see the right. Let us finish the work we are in."
ANNOUNCER. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, Mr. Lod Cook.
LODWRICK COOK. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Idn't this a wonderful occasion? It's my great pleasure to welcome you to the dedication of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. This is a great day for Ronald and Nancy Reagan, the library we are dedicating celebrates and pays tribute, to the Reagan years in Washington and to their achievements on behalf of the people of the United States. This is also an historic occasion by any standards. Adalai Stevens once said, "in America, anybody may become President, and I suppose that's just one of the risks he takes."
On stage this morning are five men who have run that risk. And have come through the experience with great distinction. Their presence makes this a unique event, the largest gathering of American Presidents and Presidential families ever assembled.
Gentlemen, your presence makes clear once again how blessed our country has been in its Presidents, from the first to the 41st, from George Washington to George Bush. Therefore it is entirely appropriate to begin today's ceremonies by asking for God's blessings. At this time I would ask the Reverend Donn Moomaw, a close personal friend of the Reagans, to deliver the invocation, Reverend Moomaw.
REVEREND DONN MOOMAW. Let us all unite in prayer together, let us rise. We invoke oh God your blessing, on this service of dedication, and we implore your good grace upon this Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. May all who come here to visit or to study be guided to a deeper appreciation of Mr. Reagan and his contribution to a better and a stronger America. We thank you, our father, for Mr. and Mrs. Reagan and the principles which have guided them and the faith which has kept them true, compassionate and just, as we are this day surrounded by many dignitaries and honored world leaders, oh God we recognize you are the mighty one, and we pray that you will visit us this day and empower us anew with your spirit of joy, of hope and of compassion. In the name of our lord and savior we pray. Amen. God bless you, you may be seated.
LODWRICK COOK. Thank you Reverend, we will now of the colors of the Joint Arm Services Color Guard. That will be followed by the pledge of allegiance to our flag led by General Colin Powell, following the pledge, Sergeant First Class Alvie Powell of the U.S. Army Chorus will sing the national anthem.
...be seated. Thank you colored guard, General Powell, Sergeant Powell. At this time I would like to ask the board of trustees and their spouses to stand and receive our applause. These men and women have done an outstanding job. They've done the fundraising, the planning and all the other...
Thank you. We are honored today to have as our host representing the great state of California, Governor Pete Wilson...
...introduce our principal guests of honor, the five Presidents. Governor Wilson.
PETE WILSON. Thank you very much Lod, good morning ladies and gentlemen. We have with us today a very special guest, a friend of America and a strong voice for world peace, ladies and gentlemen, let us show our appreciation for the former First Lady of the Arab republic of Egypt, Ms. Anwar Sadat. We are also honored to have also with us so many distinguished members of America's first families and of course, we have a remarkable gathering of First Ladies of the United States.
One of them inspired them to restore the natural beauty not only of her beloved Texas but of all America, First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.
Another first lady represented America on five continents and in twenty-two nations with grace, dignity and charm, let us show our affection and esteem for First Lady Pat Nixon.
The next First Lady reached out to disabled children and endeared herself to America with her courage and her candor, ladies and gentlemen, First Lady Betty Ford.
Next came a First Lady who eagerly sought improvement in social care at home and in human rights abroad, ladies and gentlemen, First Lady Rosalind carter.
And now there is in the White House a very special lady who has worked hard and well to promote literacy and who at Wellsly, displayed humor and gentle wisdom in her own wonderful way with words, the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Barbara Bush.
And finally there is the First Lady who shares this dedication day with her husband. In 1985, in an elementary school in Oakland California, a child asked Nancy Reagan, "what do you do when someone offers you drugs?" Mrs. Reagan replied, "just say no." Nancy Reagan gave us a simple and powerful prescription that changed young attitudes and saved young lives. She brought grace and elegance to the White House, ladies and gentlemen let us show our affection, appreciation and admiration for Nancy Reagan.
We are here today to open a new center dedicated to scholarship and to the free debate of public policy. But we are here also to honor a great man and to celebrate a great life. An American life, the life of Ronald Reagan, our 40th President. This deserved tribute has assembled for the first time in our nation's history five American who have served in the highest office in the land. Four Presidents of the United States come together to honor one.
Last year we gathered at another Presidential library to honor another great post-war President from California. Richard Nixon came to office determined to reassert America's leadership in the world. In two words, Mr. President, you succeeded.
At the height of the cold war, at the height of the cold war, you saw and took an opportunity to open the door to change. And now the process of change is sweeping the world. Yesterday Budapest and Moscow, tomorrow Bejing and Havana.
As a young Vice-President, Richard Nixon had a long and extraordinary and evidently memorable conversation with Sir Winston Churchill. The former Prime Minister and Nobel Prize-winning author must have left a deep impression because Richard Nixon has become himself, a prolific, incisive and popular author. The books and articles, the keen analysis continue to flow from his pen and President Nixon still shapes the debate. Chances are he'll get the last word. It is my honor to introduce President Richard Nixon.
RICHARD NIXON. Governor Wilson, distinguished guests, may I first express my appreciation to the very gracious words that Governor Wilson has spoken to me of my colleagues who have served as first Presidents and of the First Ladies.
And Pat and I, I want you to know, feel very honored that we can join all of you in paying tribute to two people whose friendship we have cherished for over thirty years, Ronald and Nancy Reagan. We have heard a great deal about the fact that this is an historic occasion because for the first time we have five Presidents and six First Ladies in attendance. But speaking as a politician, I think you should know that I am much more impressed by the fact that there are four people here who served and were elected as governors of their particular states.
Over the past forty-five years I have run for the House, I've been elected at the House, I've been elected to the Senate, I've been elected as Vice-President, I've been elected President, I've never made it for Governor. But by in losing in 1962 I made it possible for Ronald Reagan to be elected governor in 1966.
This magnificent library is a deserved tribute to Ronald Reagan and to Nancy Reagan. But as far as Ronald Reagan's legacy is concerned, it does not need a building to make it live for all of us. Even without a building we always will remember that Ronald Reagan was the President who restored America's military might, the military might that made it possible for George Bush to implement his brilliant strategy for victory in the Gulf War.
But great as that victory was, Ronald Reagan will be remembered for something even more important. Throughout his career, he has been one who had profound beliefs, who had the courage to fight for those beliefs and who had the eloquence to inspire his fellow Americans to support those beliefs. He believed in the simple things. He believed in freedom and democracy. He believed that America was on the right side of history, standing with the forces of good against the forces of evil in the world. And some have dismissed him therefore as an ideologue. But Ronald Reagan has been justified by what has happened. History has justified his leadership and those strong beliefs.
But let me give you a personal example. Thirty two years ago when I was in Moscow, the Premier of the Soviet Union Nikita Krutchev jabbed his finger into my chest and said, "your grandchildren will leave under communism" and I responded, "your grandchildren will leave in freedom." At that time, at that time, I was sure he was wrong, but I was not sure I was right. And now we know, thanks in great part to the strong idealistic leadership of President Ronald Reagan, Krutchev's grandchildren now leave in freedom.
PETE WILSON. Thank you President Nixon. Some Californians become Presidents, but then some Presidents become Californians. Our next speaker is a son of Michigan but Californians proudly claim and admire President Gerald Ford not only for his leadership as President but for his tireless leadership in great causes and great charities, from the Boyscouts of America to the American Cancer Society.
And all America owes gratitude to President Ford for the reassurance that he provided to our nation in a moment of uncertainty. He gave us what we needed most, calm, steady leadership, leavened with good humor, qualities he maintained even when struggling with a recalcitrant, at times irresponsible Congress. Come to think of it, that line may apply to all the Presidents. But Gerald Ford gave America in his own words, "a time to heal." It is my honor to introduce President Gerald Ford.
GERALD FORD. Mr. Presidents, our distinguished First Ladies. As a young Congressman, I well remember listening in rapt attention as General Douglas McCarthur addressed his farewell address to the Congress. He may have been right about old soldiers but you can be sure that old Presidents never just fade away.
It's been over a year now since we last met in Yorba Linda to get President Nixon's library off to a very good start. It was a decade ago that both President Reagan and Vice-President Bush came to Grand Rapids Michigan to do the same for mine. I like these reunions. I am looking forward to the next one but don't get me wrong, I don't want to attend the George Bush Library dedication any sooner than six years, say about 1997.
Well here we are at the tenth and newest Presidential library which is being dedicated like the others to the American people. Herein, they will find hanging the spurs that Ronald Reagan won not just one pair, but several. He didn't stop with two successful acting and Governor careers. He went on to be elected President of the United States by the third biggest landslide in history. And what will history say of the Reagan presidency? This library contains the records that will document the details for unborn generation of scholars. But you know what they say about history? History is something that never happened, written by those who weren't there. Let me give you my view as one who was there.
President Reagan, you will be remembered as a national leader who was able to articulate the highest hopes and deepest beliefs of the American people. You have a great gift for transforming the best instincts into the firmest articles of faith, our misty memories of the past into bright visions of a better tomorrow. People trust you and believe in you because you feel, they feel that you trust and believe in them and more important that you trust and believe as they do. Yes, you are rightly called a great communicator. You mastered the art of the television tube as F.D.R. did the radio microphone and Abe Lincoln the stump speech.
I was both touched and flattered when you came to Michigan ten years ago and quoted approvingly of a speech that I delivered in the old North church in Boston, on the 200th anniversary...
...and in California, two in California where they always do things bigger and better.
My answer would be the record shows, the United States won the cold war by staying strong and free. The freedom of our society enabled our adversaries to see our strength. They and their dependency came to see that our freedom was the source of our strength. They came to the conclusion that they could never bury us, that they would really rather become more like us. We welcome this. We should help the process along. But perpetuating peace may be far more difficult than waging war.
Though the cold war may be over, global competition has only begun, Europe without an iron curtain may dwarf the economic miracles of devastated Germany and Japan. Russia in economic and political turmoil remains an unguided giant. China is stirring restlessly and the so-called third world is packed with trouble spots, much is the same, much has changed.
What course should the United States set in the years ahead? Our council, our advice is unchanged. Keep the faith, be vigilante, remain strong, let freedom flourish, let liberty live, stay the course, stay the course, stay the course. Thank you and God be with us 'til we meet again.
PETE WILSON. Thank you President Ford. Our next speaker brought to the Oval Office an abiding faith in right over might, a deep compassion for the oppressed, the determination to make human rights America's Hallmark all over the world. Recent events in Madrid bring to mind perhaps the greatest achievements of President Jimmy Carter, the Camp David Accord.
Earlier when I recognized Mrs. Sadat, earlier when I recognized Mrs. Sadat, I couldn't help but think that this must be a day of poignant pride for her. Anwar Sadat had the courage to face his former enemies and to extend to them the open hand of friendship and of peace. At different times, Ms. Sadat...
REPORTER BARBARA SCHROEDER Hello there, sure can...
CARTER (in background, faint) Distinguished members,those that made it possible.. honor the great leader of a nation, also honored..
BARBARA SCHROEDER. ...carry the Nixon piece?. the sound bit through to the point where he says Krutchev's children live in freedom..
CARTER. ...I had one concern..
BARBARA SCHROEDER. ...yeah, I am going to say.. Richard Nixon had this to say.. yeah, let me know when we hit the Presidents..
CAMERAMAN. Do you want me to push into Carter?
BARBARA SCHROEDER. Stay on him and then we'll go to tape..
CARTER (reverberated) ...I might say though referring to President Bush that privilege in the future.. exactly what it would amount today. Yesterday.. historic event..plane I thought about the significance of this assembly of Presidents, of leader of our country.. what does it mean? ...billions of demonstration... election and democracy after 27 years under a state of emergency led by the same man and the same..it was a wonderful occasion to witness
(normal) that emerging into the democratic fold side by side now with our great country, a few days before that we had been in Liberia, a country torn by war, named for freedom itself, founded by former slaves from the United States of America. Their capitol is named after James Monroe, one of our early Presidents. We drove through Monrovia, a hollow shell of a city, reminiscent to me and Rosalind of Beirut where we visited there just a few years ago. A country still at war, struggling to achieve the united nation peace...
BARBARA SCHROEDER. ...just a few moments ago, we saw some of the historic scenes, we showed now, at first six first ladies come out, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Rosalind Carter, Betty Ford, Pat Nixon and Lady Bird Johnson was here, six first ladies, that too was historical.
CARTER. .a solid, dependable, stable, constitution...what bounds us together first of all...
BARBARA SCHROEDER. ...well right now we can see the Presidents. Quite the amazing scene, President Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter standing right next to Gerald Ford and also Richard Nixon. The library cost 60 million dollars to build, that was done with private funds. If you're ever out here visiting, it will cost you two dollars to get inside you can see several things like the oval office and a chunk of the Berlin wall in the back, reporting live from Simi valley California, Barbara Schroeder...
CARTER. ...of the independent nation of Israel but also.. And now I want to congratulate Jim Baker sitting in front of us..
BARBARA SCHROEDER. What the hell happened, I heard him with the anchor..
CAMERAMAN. They lost our audio right after..
CARTER. I read the morning paper after we got up this morning and just glancing down the front page you see the same kind of stories in the news that were there when I was President. Civil rights, the debate over how to deal to our people the same kind of human rights that we always express as a need in the foreign nations. Abraham Lincoln is the one who opened up this panorama of opportunities for us and it goes down to the present day.
Environmental issues are with us. As a President I was always proud of the fact that under Richard M. Nixon we saw the Congress and him work together to achieve the Environmental Protection Agency, pure air and water legislation, the Council of Environmental Quality.
We still struggle together, democrats and republicans alike on basic issues that affect our country, the insurance of military strength. All of us who have been in the office know that to plan design test and produce a weapon system as those used recently in the Gulf, it takes several Presidential administrations to bring those dreams into reality so that our fighting men and women have a chance to prevail.
Let me point out that we still have unanswered questions: how to provide good health care for all our people, homes for those who don't have a place to dwell, better education for our children. These are the kind of things that can make a common tie among all of us Presidents who have served.
I would say parenthetically that one of the things that bring former Presidents closest together is extremely onerous and burdensome task of begging for enough money to build a Presidential library from private sources, not from the government and then turn it over to the federal government in perpetuity as a repository for the records of our great nation.
Under President Ronald Reagan, our nation stood strong and resolute and made possible the beginning of the end of the cold war. This has led to a new opportunity for our country, to exhibit its greatness which we accept for granted too often, more clearly to people around the world.
In the past, all during my life as an adult, I've known both war and the second world war period and also since then the cold war. That cold war is now over and instead of two super powers constantly struggling against another everywhere on earth almost in intense competition, we have one superpower. It's a matter of pride but it is also a matter of the sober realization that the world is now looking to us to exhibit our greatness. There are characteristics that do not change that measure our nation's greatness...
PETE WILSON. ...that would be a long twilight struggle, the cold war and yet today we can walk the grounds of this Presidential library and see a six thousand pound block of what was once the Berlin Wall. We can thank God that cold war is over and that the victors were democracy, freedom and human hope.
But that cold war would never have been won if America's leaders had been weak, or uncertain. American Presidents, whatever their differences created an American brand of leadership that backed our ideals with resolve and matched human rights with human will.
And so the cold war was won because American Presidents were strong. Strong and clear in America's resolve to defend democracy. It is especially appropriate that our five Presidents gather at the Reagan library. After all, Ronald Reagan is not someone to ponder gloomily why democracies might perish. No, he is the quintessential American optimist. He knew freedom would triumph in the end, indeed he insisted upon it.
But freedom is not free, it must be repurchased in each new generation and that triumph continues today because of the steady, determined and courageous leadership of President George Bush.
President Bush has given not just America but all the world unflinching and unflagging leadership in the defense of free nations. And now he has focused that same leadership upon a stubbering Congress, demanding that it defend free enterprise and free America to regain its economic strength.
Let me make one last observation before the President speaks. For much of his spectacular career, George Bush has served or advised three of his predecessors and of course he was a strong and constant partner to today's honoree, President Ronald Reagan. Now George Bush has been our Commander in-Chief for almost three years, as you can see Mr. President, loyalty begets loyalty.
But most of all, loyalty is borne of admiration, it must be earned and ours is an admiration for our President's integrity and strength, admiration for the courage and grit demanded to exercise world leadership, admiration for the kind of extraordinary leader that George Bush has been and continues to be. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the President of the United States, George Bush.
GEORGE BUSH. Thank you very much, thank you Pete. Thank you all, please be seated. President Reagan and Nancy, well Barbara and I are just delighted to be here on this eleventh anniversary of your election as President.
My special greeting of course to your fellow Californians, President and Mrs. Nixon, also President and Mrs. Ford, President and Mrs. carter, Mrs. Johnson you're so sweet to be here, members of the Reagan, Kennedy and Johnson and Roosevelt families.
As I listened to these talks, I got to thinking, wouldn't Fred Travalina, Rich Little, Dana Carvey have a wonderful time here today. (laughter) And I was so moved by Chuck Heston's opening comments and Lod Cook congratulation sir. Once again you've stepped up and done a superb job.
Reverend Don Moomaw, thank you sir for the invocation and of course being with my trusted advisor military leader Colin Powell is a treat and then deja vu as Sergeant Alvie Powell sang the "Star Spangled Banner," he did that at my inauguration and I'll never forget it. Ambassador Annenberg and all who worked so hard on this library, our profound thanks to you.
This marks an historic occasion, for the first time five Presidents and six First Ladies, past and present, have gathered together in the same local. The four former Presidents, dedicated public servants and these wonderful First Ladies, each have played a significant part in the American story.
We began with the 37th President Richard Nixon and the woman we know and love as Pat. Mr. President, you were an innovator at home, a peacemaker, a groundbreaker abroad. We'll never forget it. Here too (applause) are Betty Ford and America's 38th President Gerald Ford. To this son of Michigan we say we are very grateful for your quiet strength of character, your vigor and your just plain innate decency.
And (applause) next we thank the 39th President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalind, America applauds your lifelong commitment, sir, to peace, to human rights, to helping others. And it was most gracious of you to make such an extra effort to be here today and (applause) I feel very badly that you haven't met a democratic President yet but please don't do anything about that.
And Lady Bird, Mrs. Johnson, we salute you to your dedication to our national beauty, and also for your love of family that shines through every single day.
Today (applause) today we are here to honor an American life, which is the title of his autobiography. We also honor an American original. Ronald Reagan was born on February 6 but his heart is a 4th of July and with his disarming sense of humor, President Reagan was something refreshingly different in Washington, a politician who was funny on purpose. And he also was a visionary, a crusader, a prophet in his time, a political prophet, leading the tide toward conservatism. He was also a mainstreet prophet. He understood that America is great because of what we are, not because of what we have and politics can be cruel, can be mean and ugly and uncivil and unfailingly Ronald Reagan was strong and gentle and he ennobled public service. He embodied the American character.
He came from the heart of America geographically and culturally. Not even a bullet from the gun of a would be assassin could stay his spirit. I remember the terrible day in March of '81 he looked at the doctors in the emergency room and said, "I hope you are all republicans." Well, republicans or democrats, his courage and humor made us all proud, proud to be Americans.
And for 8 years, I was very proud to be his Vice-President. And I saw a man who was thoughtful, sentimental, sending money to strangers who touched him, writing letters on yellow legal paper and asking that they be retyped because he wanted to make it easier for the recipients to read.
As President, Ronald Reagan was unmoved by the vagaries of intellectual fashion. He treasured values that last, values that endure and I speak of patriotism and civility and generosity and kindness, values etched in the American character. Once asked whom he admired most in history, he simply responded, "the man from Galilee."
Mr. President, your faith is what is true and good and that helped reaffirm our faith in the United States of America. Ronald Reagan believed in returning power to the people and so he helped the private sector create more than 16 million jobs. He sought to enlarge opportunity not government, so he lowered taxes on spending and cut inflation and helped create the longest peacetime boom in American history. How ironic that the oldest President of the United States would prove as young as the American spirit.
Here as in Washington, here as in Washington, he was aided by the true love of his life, his First Lady Nancy, champion of the foster grandparents program, heightened breast cancer awareness, she refurbished the White House with the dignity that is her legacy, she sure left us a nice cozy place to live I might say, and to discourage drugs, she urged America's children to just say no and Nancy for these things and many more, all Americans salute you.
And finally the President was a global prophet today we heard this, but the world is safer because he believed that we who are free to live our dreams have a duty to support those who dream of living free. He predicted that communism would land in the dust bin of history and history proved him right and he knew that when it comes to national defense, finishing second means finishing last. And so he practiced what he preached, supporting a strong military and pioneering the strategic defense initiative and his vision paid off and his vision paid off for every American in the sea and sands of the Gulf and America thanks him for that too.
Mr. President, history records the 1980's were not only among America's finest hours, they became perhaps democracy's finest era. Our friend the Iron Lady, as usual said it best, I speak of Margaret Thatcher, your fellow legion of liberty, recently she spoke of how great leaders are summed up in a sentence. Here's a quote, "Ronald Reagan won the cold war without firing a shot, he had little help, at least that's what he tells me."
And looking here at men and women of presidencies of the last three decades, it occurs to me that help came largely from the American people and you, and here's part of what the historians will say about Ronald Reagan. He was the great communicator and also the great liberator. From Normandie to Moscow, from Berlin to the oval office, no leader since Churchill used words so effectively to help freedom unchain our world. You were prophet and President and I want to thank you for your many many kindnesses to Barbara and to me. You loved this country, you know America and you have blessed America as few men ever have. And now it is my distinct privilege and honor to introduce the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
RONALD REAGAN. Thank you. Thank you very much Mr. President and to all the other distinguished speakers who hold that exalted title.
You might recall just recently, although a great communicator, but I have to admit it is hard for me to communicate the emotions that crowd in at such a moment and the humility that comes with tributes like those you have heard this morning. The pride I feel as I look out over this audience and see so many old friends for whom this library is a testimonial of love, loyalty and idealism.
To Lod Cook and the member of the Reagan Library Foundation and to the thousands of donors the world over whose generosity is reflected in the building we dedicate this morning, there are no words to convey adequately the gratitude, the gratitude that both Nancy and I feel for all you have done and let me also thank President Bush and the former Presidents who have joined us today, the exclusive fraternity of Presidents has grown and also we don't get together very often, when we do, well as you can see, it generates quite a bit of interest. Ehh.
At one time or another I have run against most of these gentlemen and they have run against me. And yet here we are which just goes to show that above personal ideologies and party politics, we stand united as Americans.
I am proud and honored that so many of the great Presidential families are represented here today. The descendents of Franklin Delanor Roosevelt for whom I cast my first four votes and who has served as personal inspiration to me as well as millions of Americans. Carolyn and John Kennedy, Junior, ooh, through their strength and courage have so proudly carried forward the flame of their father's legacy. Lady Bird Johnson whose warmth and strength served as tremendous source of inspiration to her husband and whose personal efforts have inspired a whole new generation of Americans to keep America beautiful. Gees. She's joined by her daughter Lucy Johnson Turpin and Lucy's husband Ian Turpin.
The five Presidents on this platform span twenty-two years of challenge and triumph, from the first man on the moon to the last aggressor out of liberated Kuwait. Two and a half decades forever stamped with the style and substance of a grocer's son from Yorba Linda, California, who as a boy heard train whistles in the night and dreamed of traveling to distant places and who, as President, would crisscross the globe to build a new and lasting structure of peace. And his lovely wife, Pat, whose splendor and grace have served as an inspiration to every first lady that has followed her.
An all American from Michigan by way of Capitol Hill who has embodied the midwestern decency and honor stirred the ship of state through tough waters and won the affection of Americans everywhere. And his First Lady, Betty, who has been a shining example of personal strength to millions of Americans Aah.
A son of the South whose election did more than anything else to restore that great region to its rightful place in the American mainstream, and who devoted himself tirelessly to cleaning the blood of Abraham from the sands of Middle East. And his partner to the President, Rosalind, who assisted him to this day in his important effort to improve the quality of life in nations around the world.
And a Texan imbued with the can-do optimism of that larger than life place who in liberating a small nation half a world away has also freed the United States of America from the crippling legacy of Vietnam and with us today America's First Lady Barbara whose personal campaign for literacy has opened the hearts and minds of so many Americans.
And of course my Nancy. I don't know how to begin to describe what she means to me, except to say, I can't imagine life without her.
Would you please join me ladies and gentlemen in expressing our gratitude to these great Americans not just for their presence here today but for their historic contributions to a world where to a greater extent than ever before in our century, no one wields a sword and no one drags a chain.
Together we gather for a single purpose, to give to the American people in the world a Presidential library. There is understandably a great temptation to look back, to remember, to share warm and fond memories and to reflect on the events that have brought here. And as we do, I hope we do not unduly focus on one man, one political party or even one country.
Instead our focus should be on the enduring fundamental principles of life that ennoble mankind. Ever since Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, Presidents have built libraries and amidst the surroundings that have shaped their characters and molded their values, from west branch Iowa to Simi valley of California, these institutions reflect the genius of the American people for self-government. Within their walls are housed millions of records for scholarly interpretation along with thousands of objects that give both solid and symbolic substance to this nation's highest office and to the forty men who have occupied since Washington took his oath.
Like the office they commemorate, Presidential libraries are living institutions. Certainly it is my hope that the Reagan library will become a dynamic intellectual forum where scholars interpret the past and policy makers debate the future. It is said that after leaving the White House, Harry Truman once came in his living room to discover his wife Bess tossing their old love letters into the fire place. "Think of history," said a horrified Mr. Truman. "I have," said Bess.
Now, in a few days more than 6 millions pages of documentation pertaining to my administration will be released to the public. In time more than 50 million pages will be made available for researchers.
But if the Reagan library is anything like its counterparts, most of those who enter these doors will not be academics. No, they will be ordinary people of all ages, background and political persuasions eager to examine their past and explore a history not always learned in school.
For them this institution will be a time capsule of American growth and greatness, covering more than a single presidency, honoring more than a single President. Here visitors will have a chance to tour and study at their leisure the accelerating changes in a fast forward world. They will be able to trace the historic process by which mankind has stepped back from the narrow window ledge of mutually assured destruction.
They will observe an American President and a Soviet leader sitting in a boat house on the shores of Lake Geneva striving to banish the nuclear nightmare from the dreams of all our children. They will see tears of pride from the boys of Puento Hoke. They will hear the trusting engines of Challenger lifting off on a heartbreaking final mission. They will be introduced to a warm and selfless First Lady who reached out to a generation of young Americans threatened by the scourge of drugs and who put a comforting arm around an older generation through the foster grandparents program. They'll catch the sinister crackle of would-be assassins' weapons, one that forever changed the life of Jim and Sarah Brady. While reconfirming my belief that whatever time remained to me was to be spent in service to the American people and in accord with the lord's wishes.
No doubt many visitors will stand in the replica of my oval office, perhaps they will sense a little of the loneliness that comes with decision making on a global scale or the stabbing pain inflicted by a terrorist bomb half a world away or the dread sound of the telephone in the middle of the night with news of hostile actions.
They will also feel some of the immense pride that comes to any President in that office as he comes into daily contact with the American heros whose faith in themselves, their mission and their mandate is a never ending source of emotional renewal.
But then, I was lucky. If I ever tired, all I had to do was to look over my shoulder. Age has its privileges and on this day of memory and reflection, I hope you would indulge me in recalling some very special people.
I remember a small woman with auburn hair and unquenchable optimism. Her name was Nelly Reagan and she believed with all her heart that there was no such thing as accidents in this life. Everything was part of God's plan. If something went wrong you didn't wring your hands, you rolled up your sleeves and I remember a storytelling salesman, one with the Irish gift of laughter and a certain American restlessness. In the spirit of his forbearers who had settled on the endless sea of grass that was the Illinois prairie before the turn of the century, Jack Reagan took his family to many new beginnings.
Perhaps that was the root of my belief shared with Thomas Paine that we Americans of all people were uniquely equipped to begin the world over. Jack had dreams, Nelly had drive. The Reagans of Dixon, Illinois may have had little in material terms but we were emotionally wealthy beyond imagination, for we were Americans, young people in a young land with the best days ahead. And we were part of a very special extended family.
I grew up in a town where everyone cared about one another because everyone knew one another, not as statistics in a government program but as neighbors in need. Is that nostalgic? I don't think so. I think it is still what sets this nation apart from every other nation on the face of the earth.
Our neighbors were never ashamed to kneel in prayer to their makers nor were they ever embarrassed to feel a lump in their throat when old glory passed by. No one on Dixon, Illinois ever burned a flag and no one in Dixon would have tolerated it.
Something else I learned is that, and that every generation of Americans must discover for themselves, I learned to admire the entrepreneurial spirit of this pioneering land where everyone has a chance to push out the boundaries of life. All this and more will greet visitors to this library and museum.
If they are anything like me they will arrive with the conviction so reminiscent of what Nelly Reagan talk long ago in Dixon, that America itself is no accident of geography or political science but parts of God's plan to preserve and extend the sacred fire of human liberty.
I too have been described as an undying optimist, always seeing a glass half full when some see it as half empty and yes, it's true I always see the sunny side of life. And that's not just because I have been blessed with achieving so many of my dreams, my optimism comes not just from my strong faith in God, but from my strong and enduring faith in man.
In my eighty years, I prefer to call that the forty-first anniversary of my thirty ninth birthday, I've seen what men can do for each other and do to each other, I've seen war and peace, feast and famine, depression and prosperity, sickness and health. I've seen the depth of suffering and the peaks of triumph and I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life.
A dynamic people, by rolling their sleeves up and getting government off their backs, can achieve economic renewal. They can slay the beast of inflation and break the record book when it comes to sustained economic growth. They can create millions of new jobs and show a watching world the success of free enterprise.
I remember a time when the growth of American government seemed inexorable and the encroachment of that government on the lives and liberties of our citizens seemed unstoppable. I also remember a time when America was advised to keep a low profile in the world as if by hunkering down and muzzling her deepest beliefs, she might avoid foreign criticism and placate her enemies and I remember a time when walls divided nations and human rights were trampled in the name of corrupt ideologies. A time when the arms. race was spiraling out of control and distrust stood between us.
Eighty years is a long time to live and yet within the course of only a few short years, I have seen the world turned upside down and conventional wisdom utterly disproved. Visitors to this mountain top will see a great jagged chunk of that Berlin Wall as you were told already, hated symbol of, yes, an evil empire, that spied on and lied to its citizens, denying them their freedom, their bread even their faith. Well today that will all exist only in museums, souvenir collections and the memories of a people no longer oppressed.
It is also a reminder that a strong America is always desirable and necessary in our world. Today a heroic people has cast off the chains of Marx and Lenin that gave rise to so much of this century's tensions. The iron curtain has rusted away. In churches and schools, in factory and on farms, the people of eastern Europe have found their voice and with it a battering ram to knock down the walls of tyranny. Totalitarianism is melting like snow. As the mythologies of communism melts under the fierce heat of truth, our greatest enemy now may be complacency itself.
Meanwhile, let us joyously invade our former opponents with Yankee ingenuity, entrepreneurs selling their wares, enthusiastic tourists all spreading the gospel of human freedom. Prosperous democracies don't declare their war on each other, they simply let their citizens live better lives for themselves.
Western Europe soared like a phoenix from the ashes of World War II. So can eastern Europe from the ruin of totalitarianism and the American people can help show the way. What a happy challenge for those looking for something to do after the cold war.
Today is the latest chapter in a story that began a quarter of a century ago when the people of California entrusted me with the stewardship of their dreams. The latest, but far from the last, for ten years after we summoned America to a new beginning, we are beginning still. Everyday brings fresh challenges and opportunities to match.
With each sunrise, we are reminded that millions of our citizens have yet to share in the abundance of American prosperity. Many languishing neighborhoods are bereft of hope. Still others hesitate to venture out in the streets for fear of criminal violence. Can't we pledge ourselves to a new beginning for them? Around the world, hope stares in the Middle East and our prayers are with the peacemakers as they strive to realize a historic opportunity... (end of tape)
I have no fears of that as we have done our best and so I say come and learn from it. My fondest hope is that Americans will travel the road extending forward from the arch of experience, never forgetting our heroic origins, never failing to seek divine guidance as we march boldly bravely into a future limited only by our capacity to dream.
May everyday be a new beginning and every dawn bring us closer to that shining city up on a hill. Thank you. God bless you all and God bless America.
LODWRICK COOK. Mr. Presidents, thank you very much.Our purpose in coming together today is to present the Ronald Reagan Presidential library to the American people. I said a moment ago that the library will serve as a tribute to the accomplishments of the Reagan administration and so it will. But this wonderful facility will also serve as a resource for all who wish to come here and study and reflect on the meaning of government and the historic events of the 1980's.
The Reagan library has been designed and built for the scholars, the historians, biographers and writers who will come here to absorb the facts about the Reagan years and interpret them to the nation and to the world.
But the library's more than simply a center for study and research. It will also be a living testimonial to a great President and a nation he led through two terms of office. As such, the library is really for every American, the tourists, the school kids, all the people. Their interests went to the heart of the Reagan's presidency and their curiosity and desire for knowledge will be served here too.
And so we come to a special moment. The dedication of the Ronald Reagan library to its ultimate owners, the people of America. Today in effect, we give the library to the National Archives and to the citizens of our great nation. As a symbolic gesture of this handing over the keys to the people, I would like to invite Don Wilson, the archivist of the United States to come forward. President Reagan will you also join me in presenting the keys of the library to Dr. Wilson and through him to all of the American people.
REAGAN. There you are.
DON WILSON. Thank you, Mr. President.
LODWRICK COOK. Thank you very much.
UNKNOWN VOICE. Stand by, cut.
(music, pop vocal - Lee Greenwood "God Bless the U.S.A.", marching band music, )
(one hour later)
SHARRON ETO, CHANNEL 9 (sound only). The presidential library dedicated to Ronald Reagan and as such it is not especially critical. For example scant attention is paid to what Mr. Reagan called the low point of his administration, the Iran-Contra scandal and it'll still take decades for all 50 million White House documents to be opened to the public, national security being the reason for that but as you just heard, Mr. Reagan said the judgement of his presidency is open to the people who visit this library and it's a judgement that he welcomes.
Reporting live from Simi Valley, Sharron Eto. Back to you Bob and Wendy.
JOHN R. KAVANAGH, CHANNEL 13 KOVR-TV. One minute away...wish I had a windscreen... This is a gathering of the who's who in politics and entertainment. Universal studios did the staging and the lighting and Charlton Heston, whose played Moses in the movies so many times took credit for the weather. Elliott, Diana...
Standby Mike, here we go. Elliot, this was a gathering of the who's who of the entertainment and political world. Universal studios did the staging and the lighting and Charlton Heston, who has played Moses so many times in the movies, took credit for the weather...
I still think that was a great line. Gotcha. Here we go. Elliot and Diana, one more special ceremony tomorrow and then the library opens to the general public two dollars to get in. Back to you. Thank you. We are going to get at heart attack do this one of these days. Isn't that nice?
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