Leaders Eulogize Ronald Reagan
WASHINGTON – Ronald Reagan was remembered in a series of eulogies during his funeral Friday at the National Cathedral. Following are excerpts from some who spoke about the nation's 40th president:
President George H.W. Bush
Bush remembered the man he served as vice president for eight years -- and his one-time political opponent -- as appreciating a good yarn and brought a rare smile to the Reagan family at the end of a week of mourning by recalling a few.
"Perhaps as important as anything, I learned a lot about humor, a lot about laughter. And, oh, how President Reagan loved a good story," Bush, who followed Ronald Reagan as the 41st president, said during a tribute at the late leader's funeral.
The congregation laughed when Bush recalled Reagan's response to how his meeting with South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu had gone: "So-so."
While Bush said he had learned much about humor from the late president, he also learned about kindness, courage and decency.
"I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life," Bush said. "Politics can be cruel, uncivilized. Our friend was strong and gentle."
Bush was a loyal vice president, and Reagan supported Bush's bid to succeed him even though the right wing of the GOP had its doubts about his conservative credentials.
In spite of reports of distance between the men during Reagan's presidency, Bush always claimed a close friendship with Reagan. While he was still president, Reagan asked Bush to speak at his funeral.
Thatcher, the former British prime minister and a friend and ally during Ronald Reagan's presidency, praised him as the man who won the Cold War and reshaped the world.
"Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union," Thatcher said in a tribute videotaped some months ago for Reagan's funeral.
Reagan won the Cold War "not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends," Thatcher said.
"The president resisted Soviet expansion and pressed down on Soviet weakness at every point until the day came when communism began to collapse beneath the combined weight of these pressures and its own failures," Thatcher said. "And when a man of goodwill did emerge from the ruins, President Reagan stepped forward to shake his hand and to offer sincere cooperation" to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Thatcher said that when Reagan's allies came under Soviet or domestic pressure, "they could look confidently to Washington for firm leadership. And when his enemies tested American resolve, they soon discovered that his resolve was firm and unyielding."
Mulroney, the former Canadian prime minister, said that history will remember Ronald Reagan as a confident and accomplished leader who "inspired his nation and transformed the world."
"Ronald Reagan fulfilled both with elegance and ease, embodying himself that unusual alchemy of history, tradition, achievement, inspirational conduct and national pride that define the special role the president of the United States must assume at home and around the world," he said.
Mulroney and Reagan became close friends when they shared the world stage as leaders of their countries during the last decade of the Cold War. They also shared an Irish heritage that Mulroney mentioned several times in his eulogy.
"Ronald Reagan will not have to worry about Erin because they remember him well and affectionately there," he said. "Indeed they do: from Erin to Estonia, from Maryland to Madagascar from Montreal to Monterey.
"Ronald Reagan does not enter history tentatively — he does so with certainty and panache. At home and on the world stage, his were not the pallid etchings of a timorous politician. They were the bold strokes of a confident and accomplished leader."