Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

By Rumsfeld, Donald H. | U.S. Department of Defense Speeches, October 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Rumsfeld, Donald H., U.S. Department of Defense Speeches

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Applause.) Thank you very much. Please be seated. Thank you.

Fred, thank you. I appreciate that very generous introduction. It kind of makes me sound like I can't hold a job. (Laughter.)

Mark, and thank you so much, and all of you for what you do to help people across the world to know more about the values, the leadership and the accomplishments of President Ronald Reagan. We appreciate what you're doing with his library and the foundation.

Pete Wilson, good to see you always. Thank you for your service to the country and, certainly, your assistance to me as a member of the Defense Policy Board. (Applause.)

Mrs. Reagan, you are a beacon of courage. And Joyce and I have such respect for you and for all you do, and for taking such loving care of our great president, Ronald Reagan. (Applause.) You bring such grace--both of you bring such grace and dignity to--both in public life and private life, in the White House and out of the White House. America loves and appreciates you both so much.

Well, this is a full house! (Laughter.) Thank you all for being here. It's a privilege for me to be able to stop here and have a chance to see the library, and say hello to some old friends sitting here, and to see so many of you.

I first met President Reagan back in 1974, when I was working with Gerald Ford. And I remember we had a lunch at your home, I believe, Mrs. Reagan, and had a nice visit. I also remember there was a point where President Ford asked me to very quietly, without embarrassing anybody, to go visit President--or, Governor Reagan and see if--I guess he was former Governor Reagan at that point, and see if he might have an interest in joining President Ford's Cabinet. And he didn't want to do it in a public way and he didn't want to make it awkward. And he knew that President Reagan was thinking of challenging him, but he wanted to try to bring the party together. So he went to--I went into a hotel room--I think it was the Madison Hotel--and met with President Reagan, and we had a visit. And I failed. (Laughter.) But Governor Reagan was as gracious as always, but he graciously declined.

Of course, President Reagan went on to win the nomination in 1980. And during his administration, as you mentioned, I had the opportunity to serve in a variety of different commissions and boards, to serve as his special envoy for the Middle East. And through it all, I had the chance to work with him and see the clarity of his leadership.

Someone asked me, "What's the most distinctive thing about President Reagan?" And I said that his leadership was directional. He had a way of getting people's eyes up off their shoelaces and out to the horizon. And you almost could feel him planting a flag, a standard, miles down the road, so that people could see it and track towards it. He did it with words. He did it with actions. But he did it brilliantly. And it was that leadership that elevated all of us and helped change the world.

Today, in so many ways, our country continues to benefit from Ronald Reagan's remarkable tenure as president. The accomplishments of any president and--are really built on the foundation of--that was left to him by his predecessors. You come into office, and you have to work with that which was left to you. And what you do during your time in office rarely benefits and enables you; it tends to plant seeds in the ground that then enable future presidents and future Congresses and future generations to build off of that.

But the foundation that was left to him by his predecessors were a result of the decisions they made, the investments they made in military capabilities, the leadership they exercised, and importantly, the world they left behind.

In each of these areas, all of us today owe a true debt of gratitude to President Reagan. And today, as we fight the global war on terror, our goal is to leave the world freer and safer than we found it, just as President Reagan did, to our great benefit. …

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