January 11, 1989
PRESIDENT REAGAN GIVES FAREWELL ADDRESS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, gave his Farewell Address tonight from the Oval Office at the White House.
Ronald Wilson Reagan
40th President of the United States
Official White House Photo
The President’s address was carried live on national radio & television.
The speech marks the 34th time President Reagan has spoken to the American people from the Oval Office.
The President began by saying:
“It’s been the honor of my life to be your President. Nancy & I are grateful for the opportunity you gave us to serve.”
The things that Mr. Reagan said he is the proudest of during 8 years of service is “the economic recovery….(and) the recovery of our morale.”
“America is respected again in the world & looked to for leadership.”
While the President went on to acknowledge the nickname “The Great Communicator” which has been given to him, he said that “I never thought it was my….words…that made a difference, it was the content.”
The President continued:
“As long as we believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. We meant to change a nation & instead we changed a world.”
On the negative side, Mr. Reagan admitted that some things have changed (for the worse) in the 1980s. He said:
“Young parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent approval of America is the right thing to teach modern children….(but) we’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom–& freedom is special & rare.”
“We’ve got to teach history based on not what’s in fashion but what’s important–why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was & what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant.”
Mr. Reagan advised:
“Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history & a greater emphasis on civic ritual.”*
*JFK+50 Editorial Comment
*I went into the teaching profession, inspired by JFK, to teach American history because of my love of the subject & my hope to bring that subject to life for my students.
As the years passed, however, I saw less & less importance placed on my subject by the “powers that be.”
By the time of my retirement in 2010, Mathematics & Science along with Language Arts were given more emphasis.
My 11th grade students had not taken U.S. history since the 8th grade & at that level they had only covered through the Civil War.
To say that their knowledge of US history was very limited would be an understatement, but I would always tell them on the 1st day of class….it wasn’t their fault.
They had Math every year…..they had Science every year….they had Language Arts every year….but go without studying something for 6 years (5th grade was when they had the period of US history we teach in 11th grade) what else could you expect.
So I am in complete agreement with what President Reagan said to us in regard to the teaching of American history….I believed it when I started teaching in 1970…..I believed it when I retired in 2010….& I believe it still.
As is his special style, however, President Reagan finished on a positive note.
“My friends. We did it. We made a difference. We made the city (on a hill) stronger; we made the city freer & we left her in good hands.”**
**reference to John Winthrop’s “A City on the Hill” sermon that argued that the Pilgrim settlement in America would be a shining example for the world.
Nancy & Ronald Reagan
Boating in California in 1964
I wish to dedicate our JFK+50 Post today to one of my best interns, Kevin Foley.
Kevin’s hero was & is Ronald Reagan.
Kevin helped me to realize how similar JFK & Ronald Reagan were in their leadership skills & their impact on the nation & the world despite being from different parties & representing different philosophies.
President Reagan was to Kevin’s 1980s generation what President Kennedy was to my 1960s generation.
Both men loved their country & loved being President.
They were both, in my opinion, great Presidents.
To Kevin, this one’s for you!