The Unconquerable Spirit of President Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was not just “the great communicator.” He was the resonant, eloquent voice of freedom.

He spoke and stood for the enduring ideals and magnificent vision of the founders.

When he took the podium, he inspired, elevated, and engaged his audience to believe what they knew in the hearts to be true.

For the pundits, press, and political players of Washington, Reagan was a mystery. To the citizens of this united land, he was everything great and everything fine about America.

Here are some Reagan quotations from a variety of sources. Many you will have heard. Some you will remember. All you will enjoy.


Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again. Knowing this, it is hard to explain those who even today would question the people’s capacity for self-rule. Will they answer this: if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

–California Gubernatorial
Inauguration Speech,
Jan. 5, 1967

I am going to talk of controversial things. I will make no apology for this. It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”

This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of the election [of 1964]: 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 for ourselves.

You and I were told we must choose between a left and 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.

–Televised address for Barry Goldwater,
Oct. 27, 1964

I’ve always believed that we are, each of us, put here for a reason, that there is a plan, somehow a divine plan for all of us.

–National Prayer Breakfast,
Feb. 4, 1982

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life. In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors, were open to anyone with the will and heart to get here.

–Farewell Address to the Nation,
Jan. 11, 1989

A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough.

–Address to Cambridge Union Society,
Cambridge, England,
Dec. 5, 1990

For many years now, you and I have been shushed like children and told there are no simple answers to the complex problems which are beyond our comprehension.

Well, the truth is, there are simple answers, they just are not easy ones. The time has come for us to decide whether collectively we can afford everything and anything we think of simply because we think of it. The time has come to run a check to see if all the services government provides were in answer to demands or were just goodies dreamed up for our supposed betterment. The time has come to match outgo to income, instead of always doing it the other way around.

–Gubernatorial Inaugural
Speech in California,
Jan. 5, 1967

In an ironic sense, Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West but in the home of Marxism-Leninism, the Soviet Union. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying freedom and human dignity to its citizens.

–Speech to the British Parliament, London,
June 8, 1982

The United States rejects as false and misleading the view of the world as divided between the empires of the East and West. We reject it on factual grounds. The United States does not head any bloc of subservient nations, nor do we desire to. What is called the West is a free alliance of governments, most of whom are democratic and all of whom greatly value their independence. What is called the East is an empire directed from the center which is Moscow.

The United States, today as in the past, is a champion of freedom and self-determination for all people. We welcome diversity; we support the right of all nations to define and pursue their national goals. We respect their decisions and their sovereignty, asking only that they respect the decisions and sovereignty of others. Just look at the world over the last 30 years and then decide for yourself whether the United States or the Soviet Union has pursued an expansionist policy.

–Address Before the 38th Session
of the United Nations General Assembly
in New York City,
Sept. 26, 1983

It’s hard when you’re up to your armpits in alligators to remember you came here to drain the swamp.

–Remarks at a White House reception
for women appointees of the administration,
Feb. 10, 1982

The American dream that we have nursed for so long in this country, and lately neglected,
is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that
every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.

–Reagan-Carter presidential debate,
Oct. 28, 1980

From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than thirty years to establish their legitimacy. But none–not one regime–has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.

–President Reagan’s Speech
to the House of Commons,
June 8, 1982

You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow.

–First Inaugural Address,
Jan. 20, 1981

The history of religion and its impact on civilization cannot be summarized in a few days or–never mind minutes. But one of the great shared characteristics of all religions is the distinction they draw between the temporal world and the spiritual world. All religions, in effect, echo the words of the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” What this injunction teaches us is that the individual cannot be entirely subordinate to the state, that there exists a whole other realm, an almost mysterious realm of individual thought and action which is sacred and which is totally beyond and outside of state control. This idea has been central to the development of human rights.

Only in an intellectual climate which distinguishes between the city of God and the city of man and which explicitly affirms the independence of God’s realm and forbids any infringement by the state on its prerogatives, only in such a climate could the idea of individual human rights take root, grow, and eventually flourish.

–Remarks at a Conference
on Religious Liberty,
April 16, 1985

While hundreds of thousands of government employees are working honestly and competently to serve their nation, there is also a very small minority of dishonest–and some frankly incompetent–individuals who are costing the taxpayers perhaps billions of dollars in fraud and waste.

This is not my money; it is not the Congress’ money; it is the people’s money. Our failure to stop this fraud, waste, and mismanagement has led to growing public cynicism about the ability of government to control itself. It raises fundamental questions about the integrity of government.

–Statement on Signing
Executive Order 12301,
Concerning Integrity and Efficiency
in Federal Programs,
March 26, 1981

I don’t know all the national anthems of the world, but I do know this: The only anthem of those I do know that ends with a question is ours, and may it ever be thus. Does that banner still wave “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Yes it does, and we’re going to see that it continues to wave over that kind of country.

–Remarks at the Republican Congressional
“Salute to President Reagan” dinner,
May 4, 1982

I’m convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first Americans wanted: A better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of government authority. Very simply, they want to be left alone in peace and safety to take care of the family by earning an honest dollar and putting away some savings. This may not sound too exciting, but there is something magnificent about it. On the farm, on the street corner, in the factory and in the kitchen, millions of us ask nothing more, but certainly nothing less than to live our own lives according to our values–at peace with ourselves, our neighbors and the world.

–Nationally televised address,
July 6, 1976

??¢â???¬ ¦History tells us that appeasement does not lead to peace. It invites an aggressor to test the will of a nation unprepared to meet that test. And??¢â???¬ ¦those who seemingly want peace the most, our young people, pay the heaviest price for our failure to maintain our strength.

–Remarks to the National Guard
Association of the United States,
Sept. 14, 1972

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the sixth of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns.

??¢â???¬ ¦Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the tops of these cliffs. And before me are the men who them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the heroes who helped end a war.

–Remarks at U.S. Ranger
Monument at Normandy, France,
June 6, 1984

Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace, but let it be clear we maintain this strength in the hope it will never be used, for the ultimate determinant in the struggle that’s now going on in the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas, a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideals to which we are dedicated.

–Address to House of Commons,
June 8, 1982

Although I held public office for a total of sixteen years, I also thought of myself as a citizen-politician, not a career one. Every now and then when I was in government, I would remind my associates that “When we start thinking of government as ‘us’ instead of ‘them,’ we’ve been here too long.” By that I mean that elected officeholders need to retain a certain skepticism about the perfectibility of government.

–Address to the Los Angeles
Junior Chamber of Commerce,
July 10, 1991

One legislator accused me of having a nineteenth-century attitude on law and order. That is a totally false charge. I have an eighteenth-century attitude. That is when the Founding Fathers made it clear that the safety of law-abiding citizens should be one of the government’s primary concerns.

–Address to the Republican
State Central Committee Convention,
Sept. 7, 1973

It’s time??¢â???¬ ¦that we acknowledge [that] the solution to the crime problem will not be found in the social worker’s files, the psychiatrist’s notes, or the bureaucrat’s budgets. It’s a problem of the human heart; and it’s there we must look for the answer.

–Address to the International
Association of the Chiefs of Police,
Sept. 28, 1981

If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly.

–Address to House of Commons,
June 8, 1982

We have found, in our country, that when people have the right to make decisions as close to home as possible, they usually make the right decisions.

–Address to the International Committee
for the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.,
September 17, 1990

??¢â???¬ ¦Diplomacy, of course, is a subtle and nuanced craft, so much so that it’s said that when the most wily diplomat of the nineteenth-century passed away, other diplomats asked, on
reports of his death, “What do you suppose the old fox meant by that?”

–Address to the 42nd session
of the United Nations General Assembly,
Sept. 21, 1987

Recognizing the equality of all men and women, we are willing and able to lift the weak, cradle those who hurt, and nurture the bonds that tie us together as one nation under God.

–Address accepting the
Republican presidential nomination,
August 23, 1984