Memorial Day Quotes by Ronald Reagan

Praising the Valor of Fallen Soldiers

Ronald Reagan
Getty Images / Handout/ Getty Images News/ Getty Images

Fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Reagan was a man of many vocations. Starting his career as a radio broadcaster and then as an actor, Reagan moved on to serve the nation as a soldier. He finally jumped into the political arena to become one of the stalwarts of American politics. Although he started his political career quite late in life, it took him no time to reach the Holy Grail of U.S. politics. In 1980 Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the president of the United States of America.

Reagan Was a Good Communicator

It is a well-accepted fact that Ronald Reagan was considered to be a good communicator. His speeches inspired millions all over the world. He had the knack of reaching most Americans with his stirring words. His critics dismissed his achievements, claiming that he smooth-talked his way into the White House. But he surprised his critics by serving two full terms as president.

Soviet Union's Love-Hate Relationship With Reagan

Ronald Reagan spoke regularly about the American values of freedom, liberty, and unity. He espoused these principles in his speeches. Reagan described his vision of a vibrant America, calling it "a shining city on a hill." He later clarified his metaphor by saying, "In my mind, it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace."

Though Reagan was widely criticized for building up the arms race with the Soviet Union, many saw this as a necessary evil to mitigate the Cold War. Reagan's gamble paid off when the Soviet Union, "encouraged" by America's flexed muscles, chose to pull the nuclear arms race into reverse gear. Reagan expressed his revulsion for war by saying, "It is not 'bombs and rockets' but belief and resolve—it is humility before God that is ultimately the source of America's strength as a nation."

Military Climate During Reagan's Tenure

When Reagan became ​president, he had inherited a disheartened military, which had gone through the ravages of the Vietnam War. Many credit Reagan with bringing the Cold War to an end with his diplomacy and calculated military strategies. He oversaw the dawn of a new era in American politics. Reagan, along with his Russian compatriot, Mikhail Gorbachev, accelerated the peace movement by ending the Cold War.

Reagan's Famous Words on Memorial Day

On many a Memorial Day, Ronald Reagan addressed America (or smaller audiences) with passionate words. Reagan spoke of patriotism, heroism, and freedom in moving words. His impassioned speeches spoke of Americans winning their freedom with the sacrifices and the blood of the martyrs who died defending the nation. Reagan heaped praise on the families of martyrs and veterans.

Read some Memorial Day quotes by Ronald Reagan below. If you share his spirit, spread the message of peace on Memorial Day. 

May 26, 1983: "I don't have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world."

Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982: "The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we—in a less final, less heroic way—be willing to give of ourselves."

May 25, 1981: "Today, the United States stands as a beacon of liberty and democratic strength before the community of nations. We are resolved to stand firm against those who would destroy the freedoms we cherish. We are determined to achieve an enduring peace—a peace with liberty and with honor. This determination, this resolve, is the highest tribute we can pay to the many who have fallen in the service of our Nation."

Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982: "Our goal is peace. We can gain that peace by strengthening our alliances, by speaking candidly about the dangers before us, by assuring potential adversaries of our seriousness, by actively pursuing every chance of honest and fruitful negotiation."

May 26, 1983: "We owe this freedom of choice and action to those men and women in uniform who have served this nation and its interests in time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free."

Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982: "I can't claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don't know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask."

October 27, 1964: "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done."

Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, March 30, 1961: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

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Khurana, Simran. "Memorial Day Quotes by Ronald Reagan." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, Khurana, Simran. (2021, September 8). Memorial Day Quotes by Ronald Reagan. Retrieved from Khurana, Simran. "Memorial Day Quotes by Ronald Reagan." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).