U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement today commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the birth of President Ronald Reagan on February 6, 2011:
"As a refugee from Cuba's Communist dictatorship, my family and I learned at a young age what it is like to see freedom ripped away and a nation plunged into despair. On this 100th Anniversary of the birth of President Ronald Reagan, I recall the tone, tenor, and tenacity with which he stood up for freedom and democracy here in the U.S. and around the world, and with which he tackled our nation's greatest challenges.
"President Ronald Reagan's clarity of purpose and unwavering commitment to the defense of freedom played a vital role in the historic fall of the Soviet Union. He was a true friend of America's allies, and an individual who altered the course of history by the sheer force of his leadership and his deep belief in the power of American exceptionalism.
"President Reagan embodies America at its best. At a time when many Americans were beginning to doubt the promise of our nation, he reminded us that, in his words, "we have every right to dream heroic dreams.' The challenges and crises that America faced were enormous. Coming off the heels of a sustained recession and stagnant growth in our markets, this President expanded opportunity and access for all by getting government out of the way and allowing our entrepreneurs and businessmen and women to take the lead in revitalizing our foundering economy.
"With President Reagan, our friends around the world knew they had a strong ally again in America. His belief in the life-altering power of freedom and democracy, and his clear distinction between free and totalitarian societies is a framework that continues to have reverberations to this day.
"Ronald Reagan called America the shining city on the hill. And by the force of his leadership and optimism, he renewed the promise of America for all Americans, turned our nation into a beacon of hope for all who were oppressed, and turned our democratic society into an aspiration. He had the courage to tell us that we were right to stand tall and believe in our country, and ultimately to believe in ourselves.
"Ronald Reagan always inspired me to be a leader and to do what I can to help strengthen our country. And I know his legacy will live on in every American who believes that when faced with enormous challenges, we band together and tackle them head-on. That is what makes our nation's greatness lasting.
"But my words could never capture the lasting impact and legacy of our 40th President better than his own. So I leave you with a few of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotations which resonate so powerfully still today:
"America has already succeeded where so many historic attempts at freedom have failed. Already, we've made this cherished land the last best hope of mankind. It's up to us, in our generation, to carry on the hallowed task. It is up to us, however we may disagree on policies, to work together for progress and humanity so that our grandchildren, when they look back on us, can truly say that we not only preserved the flame of freedom, but cast its warmth and light further than those who came before us.'
"Above all, 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.'
"Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.'
"Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.'