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Excerpts From the Eulogies

June 12, 2004|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Following are highlights of eulogies delivered Friday at the state funeral of former President Ronald Reagan, who died June 5 at age 93.

Former Sen.

John C. Danforth

[Danforth is the Episcopal minister who officiated.]

This is a service about Ronald Reagan, and it is a religious service. We've gathered to celebrate the life of a great president in a church where believers profess their faith.

So this is not only about a person, but about faith. And the homily is the place to connect the two.

For President Reagan, the text is obvious. It's from the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid."

It was his favorite theme, from his first inaugural address to his final address from the Oval Office. For him, America was the shining city on a hill....

In this service of worship, we celebrate the life of a great president, and we profess the resurrection faith of this church. It is faith in God's victory over darkness. It is faith in the ultimate triumph of light.

We believe in this victory every day of our lives. We believe it as individuals. We believe it as a nation.

There is no better time to celebrate the triumph of life than in a service for Ronald Reagan.

Former President George H.W. Bush

When Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, the New York Times wrote, "Men will thank God 100 years from now that Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House."

It will not take 100 years to thank God for Ronald Reagan. But why? Why was he so admired? Why was he so beloved?

He was beloved, first, because of what he was. Politics can be cruel, uncivil. Our friend was strong and gentle.

Once he called America hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair. That was America and, yes, our friend.

And next, Ronald Reagan was beloved because of what he believed. He believed in America so he made it his shining city on a hill. He believed in freedom so he acted on behalf of its values and ideals. He believed in tomorrow so the Great Communicator became the Great Liberator.

He talked of winning one for the Gipper and as president, through his relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev, with us today, the Gipper and, yes, Mikhail Gorbachev won one for peace around the world.

If Ronald Reagan created a better world for many millions it was because of the world someone else created for him.

Nancy was there for him always. Her love for him provided much of his strength, and their love together transformed all of us....

Lady Margaret Thatcher

[Thatcher is a former British prime minister.]

As prime minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan for eight of the most important years of all our lives. We talked regularly both before and after his presidency. And I have had time and cause to reflect on what made him a great president.

Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles -- and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly, he acted upon them decisively.

When the world threw problems at the White House, he was not baffled, or disorientated, or overwhelmed. He knew almost instinctively what to do.

When his aides were preparing option papers for his decision, they were able to cut out entire rafts of proposals that they knew 'the Old Man' would never wear.

When his 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.

President Bush

We lost Ronald Reagan only days ago but we have missed him for a long time. We have missed his kindly presence, that reassuring voice and the happy ending we had wished for him.

It has been 10 years since he said his own farewell, yet it is still very sad and hard to let him go. Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us.

In a life of good fortune, he valued above all the gracious gift of his wife, Nancy. During his career, Ronald Reagan passed through a thousand crowded places, but there was only one person, he said, who could make him lonely by just leaving the room.

America honors you, Nancy, for the loyalty and love you gave this man on a wonderful journey and to that journey's end. Today, our whole nation grieves with you and your family.

When the sun sets tonight off the coast of California and we lay to rest our 40th president, a great American story will close....

Ronald Reagan believed that everything happens for a reason and that we should strive to know and do the will of God. He believed that the gentleman always does the kindest thing. He believed that people were basically good and had the right to be free. He believed that bigotry and prejudice were the worst things a person could be guilty of.

He believed in the golden rule and in the power of prayer. He believed that America was not just a place in the world, but the hope of the world.

And he believed in taking a break now and then, because, as he said, there's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.

Brian Mulroney

[Mulroney is a former Canadian prime minister.]

Ronald Reagan was a president who inspired his nation and transformed the world.

He possessed a rare and prized gift called leadership -- that ineffable and sometimes magical quality that sets some men and women apart so that millions will follow them as they conjure up grand visions and invite their countrymen to dream big and exciting dreams.

I always thought that President Reagan's understanding of the nobility of the presidency coincided with the American dream.

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