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Tribute to Former President Ronald Reagan

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, the Capitol today is overflowing with visitors, flags stand at half-staff, and the Nation has collectively stopped this week-all to honor a remarkable man who accomplished remarkable things during a remarkable time.

President Ronald Reagan gave his life to public service and has left a legacy of leadership that will always be remembered.

We remember President Reagan's strong vision for political and economic freedom which was instrumental in the fall of communism and the spread of democracy in Eastern Europe. The world held its breath as America stared communism in the face, but in the end we peacefully won over the respect and cooperation of our enemy. Less than a year after Reagan left office, Mr. Gorbachev stepped down, the Berlin Wall fell and the cold war ended.

I will never forget President Reagan's historic speech on June 12, 1987, in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall when he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to "Open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Today, the United States is working with Russia to replace tyranny and fear in Iraq with peace and stability.

Of President Reagan, Gorbachev said, "A true leader, a man of his word and an optimist, he traveled the journey of his life with dignity and faced courageously the cruel disease that darkened his final years. He has earned a place in history and in people's hearts."

We also remember Dutch, the Great Communicator, the Gipper as a man of great optimism and humor. My kids' history books recall the dates and facts of this time, but they do not convey this Hollywood actor turned President's good-natured spirit or genuine optimism for a better tomorrow. Nor can they express his unyielding dedication and love for our country. However, I believe the outpouring of respect and affection shown by the American public this week says we will forever remember his character and personality.

Finally, we remember a man who never stopped believing, never stopped advocating America's ability to succeed and prosper. He stuck to his convictions and his visions for America, whether popular or not.

Ronald Reagan's initiatives didn't please all Americans and Democrats and Republicans did not always agree on President Reagan's foreign policy or domestic agenda, but he never encouraged or played the biting partisan games that exist today. Even with those people whom he had genuine ideological differences, President Reagan always showed a level of respect and acknowledged that we are all Americans and we are in this together.

Years ago, President Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill used to joke that, "between 9 and 5 we are enemies, but at 5 o'clock let's go have a cocktail together." To truly honor and remember President Reagan-this man of great accomplishment, optimism, and oratory-perhaps we could find ways to work better together for a better tomorrow.

I extend my deepest sympathies to the Reagan family in their time of sorrow, and I hope it is of some comfort that Americans and many others throughout the world mourn by their side.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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