Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said President Reagan's legacy is something we will continue to cherish.
The Senate passed a resolution Wednesday 98-0 commending Reagan. Enzi spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday evening honoring the former President.
"Ronald Reagan dared to do the impossible, not because it was easy but because it had to be done. The challenges he encountered in his life brought out the best in him, and the challenges we faced as a nation under him brought out the best in all of us. His is a legacy that we will always cherish. We will miss him," Enzi said.
The full text of Enzi's speech and the Senate resolution are below.
On the Passing of Ronald Reagan
Michael B. Enzi
June 8, 2004
Michael B. Enzi
June 8, 2004
This past weekend the news quickly made its way across the country and around the world. Ronald Reagan, our fortieth President had died. For many of us, we received the news with a mixture of sadness together with a sense of relief that his long battle with illness was now over and he had now found peace at the end of his life.
Now the greatest thinkers and writers will take up their pens in an attempt to determine his place in history and his significance as one of our greatest Presidents. For those of us who observed his service as our President and admired his leadership, those questions had been long since answered. For us, his place in history was long ago determined by his place in our hearts.
Many of those who will examine his life in detail will tell a story about a man who was born without the great privileges and trappings you might expect of such a successful life. That is true, but there is so much more to the story.
Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois, the son of a traveling shoe salesman. Growing up he was strongly influenced by his mother who taught him how to read at an early age. She urged him to read good books that would encourage him to dream and set goals in his life. She knew that he could be anything he wanted to be if he was willing to work hard and expect more of himself than anyone else had any reason to expect. That, more than anything else, really determined his character and ultimately mapped his destiny.
His natural confidence and determination began to show itself during his school years and again, later, when he began his career as an actor. He was a natural leader and he took a leadership role at virtually every stage of his life. In his college days he served as student body President. In his acting days he served as the President of the Screen Actors Guild. In between he worked hard and built a career as a successful actor in film and on television.
If that had been all he had done, it would have been a remarkable life. He would have earned the rags to riches label and inspired others to follow his path just by his success in Hollywood and on television. That would have been enough for just about everyone. It was not, however, enough for Ronald Reagan.
With his beloved wife, Nancy, by his side, Ronald Reagan began to pursue his dream. He wanted to make a greater impact on the world than he could by being a television and movie star, so he began to take a more active role in politics. He discovered he had a talent for that, too. After a great deal of thought and deliberation, he decided to put his vision for America to the test. He took his case to the people and began a run for governor of California.
People thought it was an impossible dream and he could never win in a state like California. Ronald Reagan proved them wrong. He put together a coalition of both Republican and Democratic voters and, when all the votes were counted, he had made it happen and he was elected Governor by almost a million votes.
Reagan then set his sights on the Presidency of the United States and, after a narrow loss to Gerald Ford, he spent the next few years traveling around the country, sharing his dream for a better United States with the people who came to hear him speak. Many doubted he could do it, but once again, he found the support he needed to win the Republican nomination. The contest for the Presidency put him up against an incumbent who talked about the serious problems facing the nation. Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, spoke with passionate certainty that working together the nation could overcome them. When the votes were counted, Ronald Reagan had won the presidency in a landslide.
As President, Ronald Reagan proved himself to be a man of principle, someone who said what he believed and believed what he said. He had excellent communication skills, and his speeches on television were extremely effective.
When he took the oath of office as our fortieth President, he took over the reins of a country that had great problems. He had often referred to our economic woes as the "misery index." There was high inflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment. Perhaps worst of all, the nation seemed to have lost its confidence in its ability to dare to do great things – and succeed. There was a lot of doubt and cynicism that any one individual could do much to change things and re-energize the nation. Again, Ronald Reagan proved the doubters wrong. As President, his spirit of optimism, patriotism and personal pride in his country proved to be infectious. Before long, there was a new spirit in the United States, a renewed sense of pride and excitement about our Flag and our nation that hadn't been around for a while. Ronald Reagan was just what we needed. He inspired a generation to look toward the future with hope and a renewed commitment to the principles upon which our nation was founded. It is still alive today. It is his legacy that he left with us, his gift to the younger generations of the nation.
During his two terms in the White House, Ronald Reagan spoke the truth, regardless of the sensitivities of those who might not want to hear it. It was over the objections of much of his staff that he challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" when he was in Berlin. It was against the advice of much of his staff to refer to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire." For Ronald Reagan, it was simple. If it was the truth, it must be said. For him, there were good guys and bad guys in the world. If the good guys worked hard and were determined to succeed, they won. In Ronald Reagan's world, we were the good guys. And, during Ronald Reagan's presidency, more often than not, we won.
For historians and the history books, Ronald Reagan will be remembered as the President who brought a successful end to the Cold War; had a great deal to do with the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and the destruction of the Berlin Wall; and, dramatically turned the nation's economy around. For those of us who observed his style as our President, he will also be remembered for his spirit, and his attitude of patriotic optimism, which rejuvenated the nation when our spirit was low. He was a great leader and a great American. His words and his actions will long be remembered.
Wednesday, June 9, 2004, 10:22, am
S. RES. 373
Relative to the death of Ronald Wilson Reagan, a former President of the United States.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
June 9, 2004
Mr. FRIST (for himself and Mr. DASCHLE) submitted the following resolution; which was
Relative to the death of Ronald Wilson Reagan, a former President of the United States. Resolved, That the Senate has heard with profound sorrow and deep regret the announcement of the death of the Honorable Ronald Wilson Reagan, a former President of the United States, and a former Governor of the State of California.
Resolved, That in recognition of his illustrious statesmanship, his leadership in national and world affairs, his distinguished public service to his State and his Nation, and as a mark of respect to one who has held such eminent public station in life, the Presiding Officer of the Senate appoint a committee to consist of all the Members of the Senate to attend the funeral of the former President.
Resolved, That the Senate hereby tender its deep sympathy to the members of the family of the former President in their sad bereavement.
Resolved, That the Secretary communicate these resolutions to the House of Representatives and transmit a copy thereof to the family of the former President.