From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Tribute to President Ronald Reagan

June 8, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this evening on the House floor to honor former President Ronald Reagan during consideration of a Bereavement Resolution for President Reagan, who died on June 5. Below are Pelosi's remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, with the death of President Ronald Reagan and the dignity with which he left us, there is truly 'mourning in America.' If the meaning of a life can be measured by the hearts touched by one's death, the outpouring of grief at the death of our 40th President speaks to the distinctly 'American Life' that was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

"We Californians mourn Ronald Reagan as our Governor. All Americans mourn Ronald Reagan as our President. And people the world over mourn Ronald Reagan the passionate voice for freedom. Today, a grateful nation remembers Ronald Reagan the man.

"We remember his indomitable optimism and abiding love of country. Ronald Reagan understood the greatness of America has always been the character of the American people. As Americans, we have always dared to dream. And so President Reagan appealed to the enduring belief that sustains us as a people - that America's best days are yet to come.

"We remember his leadership. Those of us on this side of the aisle may not have always stood with him in matters of policy. But we always knew where he stood - as did he - when it came to matters of principle. And though firm in his convictions, President Reagan was not afraid of compromise. Indeed, the life-long crusader against Communism will be always remembered for signing the first agreement with the Soviet Union to actually destroy nuclear weapons.

"We remember his eloquence. After the loss of our Challenger astronauts, President Reagan consoled a grieving nation. And whether in front of the Berlin Wall or overlooking the beaches of Normandy, he echoed the democratic aspirations of freedom-loving people everywhere.

"We remember his grace and humor. When Ronald Reagan was Governor of California, he came to the legislative chamber to deliver the State of the State Address. And because it was near the time of his birthday, they wheeled in a birthday cake and sang 'Happy Birthday' to Governor Reagan. At that time, the Speaker of the Assembly of California was a giant of a man, Jesse Unruh, who did not always see eye-to-eye with then-Governor Reagan. So they sang 'Happy Birthday,' Governor Reagan blew out the candles. Someone said from the seats: 'Governor, did you make a wish?' And the Governor looked right at Speaker Unruh and said: 'Yes, I made a wish, but it didn't come true. He's still there.'

"At the end of the day, though, President Reagan knew that whatever may divide us as a party is dwarfed by what unites us as Americans. Speaker Tip O’Neill famously told of how he and the President clashed by day, but were friends after six o'clock - prompting the President to begin his phone calls: 'Tip, is it after six o'clock?'

"We remember Ronald Reagan's faith - in his country, in his family, and in his God. In that poignant letter 10 years ago announcing his battle with Alzheimer's disease, President Reagan wrote: '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 know that for America, there will always be a bright new dawn ahead.'

"And we remember Ronald Reagan's dignity - the dignity with which he lived and led our country, and the dignity with which he died, turning the long good-bye of his final years into a lesson for all of us.

"All Americans, including those of us who serve in the Congress of the United States, have been touched by the dignity, private strength, and public grace of Nancy Reagan and the entire Reagan family, to whom we offer our prayers and deepest condolences. Our nation is in your debt for the care and love that you gave our President, and for the dignity with which you held his hands at the end. I hope it is a comfort to Mrs. Reagan and the Reagan family that the whole world mourns their loss and is praying for them at this sad time.
"For his eloquent defense of freedom . . . for his leadership style of conviction and compromise . . . for his eternal optimism for the future . . . America pays tribute to President Ronald Wilson Reagan.

"May God bless Ronald Reagan. May God bless this country that he loved and led. May Ronald Reagan rest in peace."




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