This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s birth. A man of many talents and accomplishments, his sense of humor and contagious optimism are perhaps most missed today as our nation faces a host of difficult challenges.
As we recall in our new video celebrating his birthday, when Reagan took office our nation was in a similarly precarious situation.
With high unemployment and inflation at home and the looming threat of communism abroad, America was at a crossroads. But in the face of all these obstacles, President Reagan rose to the challenge. He firmly believed in America’s unique role in the world and was confident that America’s best days were ahead of it. “Above all,” he said during his first inauguration, “we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have.”
Under his leadership, guided by strong conservative principles, Reagan helped oversee America’s return to prosperity and the fall of the Soviet Union. As Heritage’s Lee Edwards lays out in a new paper, Reagan exhibited “the classical virtues of courage, prudence, justice, and wisdom.” As Edwards explains, when Reagan left office, he assured Americans that together they had made a difference. “They had made America—that ‘shining city on a hill’—stronger and freer and had left her in good hands.”
We here at The Heritage Foundation are not unaware of the challenges we face today, but we are confident that they can be conquered and that Americans can, as they always have, be counted upon to find solutions. As President Reagan said in that same inauguration speech, “After all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans. God bless you, and thank you.”