Remembering "The Gipper"

Jun 9, 2004
Press Release
Today, Congressman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) released the following statement on the death of President Ronald Reagan. He delivered these remarks on the House Floor last night during debate over a resolution honoring the life of the President Reagan: “Mr. Speaker, the world is grieving this week over the loss of a true American hero, President Ronald Wilson Reagan. Words cannot describe the admiration and respect that I have for this great man,” said Congressman Wilson. “He led a revolution for free enterprise, for victory of democracy over communism, and for national political realignment. Watch Video “For many of Americans in mourning, including myself, Ronald Reagan was not just a good president; he was “our President.” He defined the honor and dignity of the office of the Presidency, and he lifted the spirits of a nation with his hope and joyfulness that sprang from an abiding faith in God and a deeply held belief in the American Dream. “I am grateful to have lived the Reagan Revolution as a foot soldier promoting his vision of a dynamic economy creating jobs through tax cuts and free markets, his support of America’s military to achieve success in liberating millions by victory in the Cold War, and his transformation of developing the Republican Party which today holds a majority of state legislatures seats across American for the first time since 1952. He reinvigorated the Republican Party with optimism and vision. “He entered office during a time of doubt and despair and malaise, with the economy sputtering and a looming Cold War that threatened our families. With the seemingly insurmountable problems he faced, many critics underestimated the former California governor. Yet, President Reagan brought with him his conservative principles of individual freedom, limited government, personal responsibility and peace through strength. He also brought an optimism that America’s greatest days were ahead of us. “Proving all of his detractors wrong, President Reagan won the Cold War, spurred the economy to robust growth, and restored our national confidence and patriotism. As author and former Presidential staffer Peter Robinson said recently, “Ronald Reagan was great, because Ronald Reagan was right.” “His straightforward speeches began to change minds across America, and many became Reagan Democrats. Today, in my home state, Republicans hold most statewide offices, a complete turnaround that has occurred throughout the South thanks to the leadership of Ronald Reagan. “He stirred a Revolution where in 1980 Republicans in South Carolina held only 16 seats in the State House, and now there is a Republican super-majority of 76 out of 124 members. In the State Senate, Republicans soared from 3 members in 1980 to now a super-majority of 27 of 46 members. “For two years, I was honored to work in the Reagan Administration, as Deputy General Counsel to the Secretary of Energy Jim Edwards. I am a proud Reagan Alumni Association member. And later, because of his efforts to win the Cold War and bring freedom to the oppressed people of the Soviet Union, I was asked by former Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater to observe the first democratic elections in Bulgaria. “I saw firsthand the Reagan legacy of peace and freedom, as Central and Eastern Europe rose from the ashes of communism to become strong democracies and American allies. The people I have met over the years from Bratislava, Slovakia, to Novosibirsk, Russia regard President Reagan as their own hero, a man who was unafraid to tell the truth about the “evil empire.” “While we mourn his passing, President Ronald Reagan will never be forgotten. Children will read for centuries to come about “The Happy Warrior” who helped liberate tens of millions from totalitarian communism and restored America’s position in the world as “the shining city on a hill.” “Democracy is more widespread today in the world than anytime in history due to President Reagan’s success of peace through strength. “We can’t help but be reminded of his legacy as America faces similar battles today against the oppression of terrorism and as critics deride our president much as they did President Reagan twenty years ago. America is under attack because we are the symbol of liberty in the world, and we must meet this challenge with the same courage and conviction that Ronald Reagan had. As he said in the 1964 Goldwater Campaign, in what has simply become known as The Speech, “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” “May God bless the Reagan Family, may God bless our troops, and may God continue to bless America,” said Congressman Wilson. ### Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum: here you can find more on his life, his famous speeches, and special photographs.