The Vice President's Remarks
A 'Providential' Leader and an American Idealist
Thursday, June 10, 2004; Page A26
Excerpts of remarks by Vice President Cheney yesterday at the Capitol, as transcribed by eMediaMillWorks Inc.:
He said goodbye to us in a letter that showed his great courage and love for America. Yet for his friends and his country, the parting comes only now. And in this national vigil of mourning, we show how much America loved this good man and how greatly we will miss him.
A harsh winter morning in 1985 brought the inaugural ceremony inside of this Rotunda. And standing in this place for the 50th presidential inauguration, Ronald Reagan spoke of a nation that was hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair.
That was how he saw America, and that was how America came to know him.
There was a kindness, simplicity and goodness of character that marked all of the years of his life . . . .
This was the Ronald Reagan who had faith, not just in his own gifts and his own future, but in the possibilities of every life. The cheerful spirit that carried him forward was more than a disposition; it was the optimism of a faithful soul who trusted in God's purposes and knew those purposes to be right and true.
He once said, "There's no question I am an idealist, which is another way of saying, I am an American."
If Ronald Reagan ever uttered a cynical or a cruel or a selfish word, the moment went unrecorded. Those who knew him . . .remember his largeness of spirit, his gentle instincts and a quiet rectitude that drew others to him.
Seen now at a distance, his strengths as a man and as a leader are only more impressive. It's the nature of the city of Washington that men and women arrive, leave their mark and go their way. Some figures who seemed quite large and important in their day are sometimes forgotten or remembered with ambivalence.
Yet nearly a generation after the often impatient debates of the Reagan years, what lingers from that time is almost all good. And this is because of the calm and kind man who stood at the center of events.
We think back with appreciation for the decency of our 40th president and respect for all that he achieved. After so much turmoil in the '60s and '70s, our nation had begun to lose confidence. And some were heard to say that the presidency might even be too big for one man. That phrase did not survive the 1980s.
For decades, American had waged a Cold War, and few believed it could possibly end in our own lifetimes. The president was one of those few. And it was the vision and the will of Ronald Reagan that gave hope to the oppressed, shamed the oppressors and ended an evil empire . . . Ronald Reagan was more than a historic figure. He was a providential man who came along just when our nation and the world most needed him.
Fellow Americans, here lies a graceful and a gallant man.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company