While many of Ronald Reagan’s speeches have gone down in history as some of the greatest, his first inaugural address was particularly moving. The movie star turned politician was now the leader of the free world, and the people of this country entrusted him to do what was right.
In turn, he offered the nation a message of hope, a promise of prosperity, and an unwavering appreciation for all those who sacrificed for the country.
Check out the Great Communicator giving that speech in this epic video montage below:
“If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before,” Reagan says in his speech.
“Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.”
“Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don’t know where to look. The sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.”
Reagan’s speech was inspired by the story of a WWI soldier who gave his life for the country he loved.
“Under one such marker lies a young man–Martin Treptow–who left his job in a small-town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.”
“We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, ‘My Pledge,’ he had written these words: ‘America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.'”
“The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.”
“And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”