Ronald Reagan, America's 40th president, died on June 5, 2004, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. More than 25 years after leaving office, Reagan remains a towering figure, beloved by supporters and acknowledged as a president who left a lasting imprint on U.S. politics.
USA TODAY Network lists memorable quotes from "The Great Communicator" on the 10th anniversary of his death.
1. Goldwater support
A Democrat for much of his adult life, Reagan formally switched parties in the early 1960s. A week before the 1964 presidential election, Reagan delivered a televised address in support of Republican nominee Barry Goldwater. Goldwater would go on to lose to President Lyndon B. Johnson in a landslide, but the speech established Reagan as a rising GOP star. Two years later, he would be elected governor of California.
"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness."
2. Debate with Carter
Reagan and President Jimmy Carter debated only once in 1980, but in their face-off, Reagan delivered a blistering rebuke of the incumbent administration with this line. Reagan would go on to win a decisive victory.
"Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls. You'll 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?"
3. First inaugural
Reagan's campaign for the presidency emphasized a domestic platform of lowering taxes and reducing the size of government. He distilled his brand of conservatism into this line from his first inaugural address:
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
4. Assassination attempt
A little more than two months after taking office, Reagan was the target of an assassination attempt by John Hinckley. The president was seriously injured in the shooting. Three other people were also wounded in the attack, including press secretary James Brady, who was left paralyzed.
Reagan managed to add a bit of levity to the moment while at the hospital in this remark to wife Nancy before going into surgery:
"Honey, I forgot to duck."
Reagan also reportedly said to doctors at the hospital as he was heading into the operating room: "I hope you're all Republicans."
5. D-Day anniversary
On June 6, 1984, the 40th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, Reagan paid tribute to the men who helped liberate Europe from Nazism. His speech, delivered at a memorial to Army rangers at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy, France, stands as one of Reagan's most widely praised.
"These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war."
6. Debate with Mondale
Following a disappointing performance in his first debate against former vice president Walter Mondale, Reagan was on the defensive amid increased questions about his age and continued fitness for office during his 1984 re-election campaign. But, with one quip in the next debate, Reagan put the issue to rest with a line that even had his opponent laughing.
"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."
7. Challenger disaster
In times of tragedy, Americans look toward their president to set the tone and summon the words that can help the nation heal. Reagan was thrust into this role following the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986, that left seven crew members dead. He addressed the nation from the Oval Office on the same day he had been scheduled to deliver the State of the Union Address.
"We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"
8. At Brandenburg Gate
Reagan was known for his aggressive posture toward the Soviet Union, and his supporters credit him with helping to bring about an end to the Cold War. Perhaps the most famous line of his presidency was delivered on June 12, 1987, in front of Brandenburg Gate when he issued a challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
9. Iran Contra fallout
The Reagan administration became engulfed midway through his second term by the arms-for-hostages scandal known as Iran Contra. On March 4, 1987, Reagan addressed the nation and expressed regret for what had occurred on "my watch" and acknowledged — to an extent — that his previous statements on the arms swap were not accurate. Reagan's popularity took a hit from the scandal, but by the time he left office in January 1989, his popularity had rebounded.
"A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."
10. 'Sunset of my life'
In a letter to the nation nearly six years after leaving office, Reagan announced that he was "one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease." Reagan closed the note on a characteristically optimistic note.
"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."