MOURNING THE PASSING OF PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN -- (House of Representatives - June 09, 2004)
Mr. COX. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the previous order of the House, I call up the resolution (H. Res. 664) mourning the passing of President Ronald Reagan and celebrating his service to the people of the United States and his leadership in promoting the cause of freedom for all the people of the world, and ask for its immediate further consideration.
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Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
I first heard about Ronald Reagan in probably 1970, when Joan Baez, on my Woodstock album, referred to the Governor of California as Ron Ray Gun. And this was a young person, so I thought if Joan Baez is against him, it is probably a good thing. Yet as I went through my years and got in college, I had an opportunity to hear Mr. Reagan speak at the Kansas City Republican convention in 1976. And in his concession speech on the nomination going to Gerald Ford, he gave a great speech and he talked about what we have to do as Americans to preserve the great life-style that we live. I was very impressed with that speech. So in 1980, when he ran for President and was the nominee, certainly I was very enthusiastically in support of him.
He was elected in a year when we had hostages in Iran, the economy was in the tank, and the spirit of America was in the doldrums. He won by a landslide, with great expectations, though, and a great mandate. He needed to cut taxes, and he did. He moved along and created an economy that gave 19 million new jobs over the next 8 years. Inflation was reduced, as well as interest rates. He built defense to the extent that we got over, finally, Vietnam. He talked about things like the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union and peace through strength. And he said things that were politically incorrect at the time, like "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall," even though people in our own party did not like him saying those things.
He was very basic. Nancy Reagan led the Just Say No to Drugs campaigns, and I think it was very effective in getting young people to think twice about it.
He had that Irish twinkle in his eye. And when he got shot, even though it was a very serious wound, he said, gee, I hope you are all Republicans. He had that kind of calmness and happiness about him as he went through things. And I, as so many young people, were inspired by him. So when I ran for the State legislature in 1984, I pulled out a photograph that Libby, my wife, and I had taken with Ronald Reagan in 1980, and I ran an ad that said,
"Reagan/Kingston: Face it, we need conservatives at all levels of government."
But I believe that was a key factor in helping me. He had those kind of coattails. He believed in family, America. He loved Nancy. He showed us a husband-and-wife relationship at its finest. He was kind. The Carter-Reagan, Mondale-Reagan campaigns were not nasty, mean or vicious. In fact, he would say to Jimmy Carter if he disagreed with some of
Mr. Carter's facts, "There you go again."
He liked joke-telling and told the jokes about the Soviet Union and got his point across, but when he was in the Oval Office, he always wore his coat out of respect for the Oval Office and the office of the Presidency.
In his final speech as he left Washington, D.C., he said, and I quote, "As I walk off the city streets, my final words to
the men and women of the Reagan revolution: My friends, we did it. We were not just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city freer and left her in good hands."
The lights of this city shine, but the future will burn brightly because of men and the leadership of Ronald Reagan.