On this day in 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan was born. A beloved president, Reagan gave Americans hope in a time when they greatly needed it, with the ongoing Cold War and a struggling economy creating a crisis of confidence for the United States. With his conservative economic policies and his willingness to be tough on the Soviet threat, Reagan helped turn the country around and give people an America they could believe in again. In the global arena, he advocated for democracy and for the blessings that liberty could bring to oppressed peoples everywhere, particularly those behind the Iron Curtain.
President Reagan earned his legacy as The Great Communicator, with his propensity for moving speeches, but he held that it wasn’t his words or speaking that we remember today, but the content, which “came from the heart of a great nation.” Let’s take a look at some of our 40th President’s greatest quotes, which inspire us to remember what has made, and will continue to make, America great.
1.) “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.”
Reagan’s words, spoken at the Berlin Wall in 1987, will forever echo through history. Two years before the wall would finally fall, Reagan called on Gorbachev to match his actions to his words and end the political and economic oppression in the USSR, of which the wall had been a symbol for over 25 years.
2.) “I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”
When government increases, the rights of the individuals are inevitably trampled upon. With our inflated bureaucracy and a government that thinks it knows what is best for everyone, we can see this to be the case today.
3.) “The American dream 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.”
In America, we believe in an equality of opportunity that may not necessarily result in equal outcomes. It is up to the individuals to make the most of their lives and pursue their dreams, and the government’s duty is to protect their freedom to do so.
4.) “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”
The sad reality is how relevant this quote is today due to lawmakers who have failed to heed Reagan’s advice. With a national debt of 19 trillion dollars and counting, it is mind-boggling that liberal leaders still think that throwing money at problems will solve them. If only Bernie Sanders would read this and reconsider his massive spending proposals.
5.) “America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.”
Ronald Reagan was optimistic about the direction of our nation. Today, it is often difficult to feel optimistic about where America is headed, but if we stick to the values that made our nation great in the first place, we will have brighter days ahead and create better lives for our posterity than we ourselves have had.
6.) “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
Protecting citizens from harm and threats is much different from claiming to know what is best for every American. From Obamacare’s forcing individuals to purchase healthcare packages against their will to bans or taxes on large soft drinks, we increasingly find ourselves living in a nanny-state. This is not the role of the government as it was ever intended to be.
7.) “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 first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
Truly, America is the last best hope for humanity. We can see this today, when we look around us and see a world in turmoil, where liberty is threatened on a daily basis. It is our duty to continue the work of our predecessors to protect America from enemies, within and without, who seek to destroy what makes our nation so unique and rich with opportunity.
8.) “You know, we only have a military-industrial complex until a time of danger, and then it becomes the arsenal of democracy. Spending for defense is investing in things that are priceless — peace and freedom.”
Our liberal leaders have reduced military spending greatly, and many call for the defense budget to continue to be slashed. They see military spending as overly aggressive and contradictory to their bloated social expenditures, but fail to see that a well-defended America is an America that is free to grow, prosper, and preserve liberty.
9.) “America is too great for small dreams.”
America is a place of big dreams. Throughout history, our defining moments have been shaped by dreams of freedom, innovation, and the hope of making the future a better world for our children to live in. Our liberty has created for us a wealth of potential to accomplish and live our own great American dreams every day.
10.) “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Nowadays, we see so many people, particularly the young, who don’t consider themselves proud to be Americans. They feel entitled to the privileges of freedom and forget the immense sacrifice that has gone into protecting that freedom. If this continues, we will lose our sense of who we are as a nation and will lose sight of what is worth fighting for. We must never forget how dear our liberty is to us, and must teach future generations to appreciate the blessings of freedom that so many brave individuals have died to preserve.
Today, on what would have been his 105th birthday, we remember Reagan for his unwavering dedication to American values and ideals. We remember him for his optimistic spirit, and for his belief that as long as we stay true to our identity as a nation, America will continue to be the greatest country in the world. So, Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan, and thank you for helping America realize her potential once again.