1911 – 2004
Baroness Thatcher tonight led the tributes to former US President Ronald Reagan, who has died at the age of 93. So far, her comments tower above all the others I have read. That is somehow fitting, as their names were mentioned together as much as Bush and Blair’s are today. Their alliance was strong even from before Reagan became president, and it was said of Reagan and Thatcher: ‘It would take a crowbar to get them apart’
Baroness Thatcher has hailed Mr Reagan as “a truly great American hero”.
She told PA News: “President Reagan was one of my closest political and dearest personal friends. He will be missed not only by those who new him and not only by the nation that he served so proudly and loved so deeply, but also by millions of men and women who live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued.
Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired. To have achieved so much against so odds and with such humour and humanity made Ronald Reagan a truly great American hero.”
A man should be judged also by the views of his enemies not just his friends Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev the last leader of the Soviet Union, said Reagan was a ‘great president’ who was ‘instrumental in bringing about the end of the Cold War’ He also said “I feel great regret. Reagan was a statesman who, despite all disagreements that existed between our countries at the time, displayed foresight and determination to meet our proposals halfway and change our relations for the better, stop the nuclear race, start scrapping nuclear weapons, and arrange normal relations between our countries.
Tony Blair said of Reagan “At home, his vision and leadership restored national self-confidence and brought some significant changes to US politics. Abroad, the negotiations of arms control agreements in his second term and his statesmanlike pursuit of more stable relations with the Soviet Union helped bring about the end of the Cold War.
Michael Howard (the possible next UK prime minister who leads Thatchers beloved Tory Party) told PA News: “This is an enormously sad day. President Reagan was one of the towering figures of our time, the man who with Margaret Thatcher won the Cold War for the West. It is so sadly ironic that he should have died as we prepare to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the day when the Allies began the liberation of Europe. We in Britain, as in so many other places around the world, owe him an ever-lasting debt. May he rest in peace.”
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The Queen is saddened by the news.”
Democtratic Presidential candidate John Kerry said “Reagan had an infectious love of country. Even during his bitterest differences with Democrats, Reagan lived by the noble ideal that at 5 p-m the country wasn’t divided into Democrats and Republicans, but that everybody was an American and a friend. “
George W Bush said Reagan’s death was “a sad hour in the life of America.”
Bush said Reagan “had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humor that comes with wisdom.”
Thanks to Reagan, said Bush the USA “laid to rest an era of division and self-doubt and because of his leadership the world laid to rest an era of fear and tyranny.”
Bush blinked back tears and said “He always told us for America the best is yet to come. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that this is true for him too,” Bush said. “His work is done. And now a shining city awaits him.”
But the last word goes to Reagan himself, who on hearing of his diagnosis of Alzheimers said “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 now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.”
That journey, so much more painful for the loved ones gradually left behind is now over. Reagan died with the woman he loved at home.