Following are excerpts from the eulogy of the former Canadian prime minister, as transcribed by Federal News Service.
In the spring of 1987, President Reagan and I were driven into a large hangar at the Ottawa airport to await the arrival of Mrs. Reagan and my wife, Mila, prior to departure ceremonies for their return to Washington. We were alone except for the security details.
President Reagan's visit had been important, demanding and successful. Our discussions reflected the international agenda of the times: the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet Union and the missile deployment by NATO, pressures on the Warsaw Pact, challenges resulting from the Berlin Wall . . . And here we were, waiting for our wives.
When their car drove in a moment later, out stepped Nancy and Mila, looking like a million bucks. And as they headed towards us President Reagan beamed. He threw his arm around my shoulder and he said, with a grin, "You know, Brian, for two Irishmen we sure married up."
In that visit, in that moment, one saw the quintessential Ronald Reagan: the leader we respected, the neighbor we admired and the friend we loved; the president of the United States of America, whose truly remarkable life we celebrate in this magnificent cathedral today.
Presidents and prime ministers everywhere, I suspect, sometimes wonder how history will deal with them. Some even evince a touch of the insecurity of Thomas D'Arcy McGee, an Irish immigrant to Canada who became a father of our confederation.
In one of his poems, McGee, thinking of his birthplace, wrote poignantly:
Am I remembered in Erin?
I charge you, speak me true
Has my name a sound, a meaning
In the scenes my boyhood knew?
Ronald Reagan will not have to worry about Erin, because they remember him well and affectionately there; indeed they do. . . .
Ronald Reagan does not enter history tentatively; he does so with certainty and panache. At home and on the world stage, his were not the pallid etchings of a timorous politician, they were the bold strokes of a confident and accomplished leader.
Some in the West, during the early 1980s, believed communism and democracy were equally valid and viable. This was the school of moral equivalence. In contrast, Ronald Reagan saw Soviet communism as a menace to be confronted in the genuine belief that its squalid underpinnings would fall swiftly to the gathering winds of freedom, provided, as he said, that NATO and the industrialized democracies stood firm and united. They did, and we know now who was right.
Ronald Reagan was a president who inspired his nation and transformed the world. He possessed a rare and prized gift called leadership -- that ineffable and magical quality that sets some men and women apart so that millions will follow them.
One day in Brussels, [French] President [Francois] Mitterrand, in referring to President Reagan, said, "Il a vraiment la notion de l'Etat." Rough translation: "He really has a sense of the state about him."
The translation does not fully capture the profundity of the observation. What President Mitterrand meant is that there is a vast difference between the job of president and the role of president. Ronald Reagan fulfilled both with elegance and ease.
I have been truly blessed to have been a friend of Ronald Reagan. I am grateful that our paths crossed and that our lives touched. I will always feel honored by the journey that we traveled together in search of better and more peaceful tomorrows for all God's children everywhere.