20 January, 1981, Washington, D.C.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th president of the United States of America and one of the few who served two consecutive terms in office. As a young man, Reagan strongly believed in the goodness of people, a trait he inherited from his mother, Nelle. Reagan would often bring back black people, who were not allowed into the local inn, to his house where his mother would invite them to stay overnight and would serve them breakfast in the morning.
After gaining fame as a radio, TV and movie star, Reagan moved on to politics. He came to power at a time when America was reeling under an economic crisis. In his first address to the country upon becoming president, he spoke of his intent to revive the nation by giving more power to the common man and the dignity of labour.
“These United States are confronted with an economic problem of great proportions. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity. We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding – we are going to begin to act, beginning today.
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. If no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden.
Our concern must be for a special interest group that knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we are sick – professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, “We the people,” this breed called Americans.
If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. God bless you and thank you.”
Reagan’s words echoed throughout the country during the duration of his presidency and his new policies, known as ‘Reaganomics’, led to a more efficient and prosperous America. After his second term, Ronald Reagan retired to his home in Bel Air, California, where he passed away on the afternoon of June 5, 2004.
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