Deseret News Archives

Some people might look at all the President Reagan hoopla and say, "There you go again." But who can resist putting together the ten best things Ronald Reagan ever said. Are these really the ten best quotes? "Trust, but verify" them yourself. The selection may be slightly subjective, but the ranking is based on hard data. This sampling of quotes has all the inspiration, humor, leadership and humanity of the 40th President of the United States. And, if you think a vital one is missing, add it to the comments (include the date Reagan said it if you can). *Note: Not all the photos coordinate with the respective quote. See more photos and why at 100 Reagan still matters. See 10 historic photos from Reagans visits to Utah. See the video of the Reagan roundtable here

10 The sunset of my life
Deseret News Archives

"I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you."

November 5, 1994: From the letter in which Reagan announced his Alzheimer's diagnosis — five years after leaving office.

9 We will never forget them (Challenger disaster)
AP Photo/Dennis Cook

"The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them — this morning, as they prepared for their journey, and waved good-bye, and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"

Jan. 28, 1986: In the morning, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in flight, killing seven people, including Christa McAuliffe, a teacher. Reagan addressed the nation that evening from the White House and ended his speech by quoting from the poem "High Flight" by pilot John Gillespie Magee, Jr. who died while flying during WWII.

8 My opponent's youth and inexperience
Parker, Deseret News Archives

"I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

October 21, 1984: In the second presidential debate with candidate Walter Mondale, Reagan was grilled over his age by Henry "Hank" Trewhitt of the Baltimore Sun. "You already are the oldest President in history, and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with Mr. Mondale. I recall, yes, that President Kennedy, who had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuba missile crisis. Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?" Reagan replied, "Not at all, Mr. Trewhitt and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience." Trewhitt responded, "Mr. President, I'd like to head for the fence and try to catch that one before it goes over."

Mondale lost.

7 Right will always eventually triumph
AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander

"I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there's purpose and worth to each and every life."

November 4, 1991: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Charlton Heston were present when Reagan spoke these words at the dedication of his Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. It is also inscribed on his tomb. The full quote in context was: "In my eighty years, I prefer to call that the forty-first anniversary of my thirty ninth birthday, I've seen what men can do for each other and do to each other, I've seen war and peace, feast and famine, depression and prosperity, sickness and health. I've seen the depth of suffering and the peaks of triumph and I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life."

6 We begin bombing in five minutes
Deseret News Archives

"My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

August 11, 1984: Reagan was getting ready for a 9 a.m. live broadcast from his ranch, Rancho del Cielo, near Santa Barbara, Calif. He joked around with the National Public Radio audio engineers during the microphone check before the broadcast, and said, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." The comments were not broadcast, but unbelievably, during an election year no less, somehow, as hard as it may be to fathom, somebody, maybe even from NPR, leaked a recording of the joke to the public.

Russia was not amused.

5 Government is the problem
Ronald Reagan Library

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

January 20, 1981: From Reagan's Inaugural Address.

4 Last stand on Earth
Deseret News Archives

"If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth."

October 27, 1964: Reagan's speech, "A Time for Choosing," was given on television to support Senator Barry Goldwater's run for the presidency. It is considered to be the speech that launched Reagan's career in politics.

3 Are you better off?
The White House, Deseret News Archives

"Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago?"

October 28, 1980: In the debate against President Jimmy Carter, Reagan asked, in his concluding remarks, this devastating question.

Carter lost.

2 I hope you're all Republican
O. Wallace Kastler, Deseret News Archives

"Please tell me you're all Republicans."

March 30, 1981: John Hinckley Jr. shot Reagan outside a hotel where the newly elected president had just spoken. After the assassination attempt, as Reagan was moved to the operating table, he said to the doctors, "Please tell me you're all Republicans." Dr. Joseph Giordano, a Democrat, replied, "We're all Republicans today."

1 Tear down this wall
Associated Press

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr.Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'"

June 12, 1987: Speaking at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall, the physical symbol of Communism. In Nov. 1989 the wall came down.

E-mail: mdegroote@desnews.com
Twitter: @degroote


See more photos and why at 100 Reagan still matters.

See 10 historic photos from Reagans visits to Utah.

See the video of the Reagan roundtable here