A man with big dreams, 40th President Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) spent eight years in office (1981-1989). The oldest man elected (73), his gift was to inspire America... and the world... with eternal optimism.
"By working together, pooling our resources, and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things," he once said, his words sought to uplift, teach, and move to action.
"What I'd really like to do is go down in history as the President who made Americans believe in themselves again," he said.
Born in Tampico, Illinois, Reagan was a movie star before launching his political career. With two decades as an actor in 53 films, he explored Hollywood politics as the president of the Screen Actors Guild, then led California as governor for two terms before moving to the White House with his powerhouse wife, Nancy. "I'm not smart enough to lie," he once claimed.
Called "The Great Communicator," he successfully reached the American public with his down-to-earth analogies and genial personality. The Conservative Reagan believed in self-reliance and private enterprise. While in office, he survived an assassination attempt.
Old-fashioned, and hard of hearing, he loved jelly beans. "You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jelly beans," observed Reagan, who was known for his great sense of humor.
"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."
Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994, he wrote: "When the Lord calls me home...I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future...I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."
More Ronald REAGAN Quotations
America is as great as its leadership.