Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tribute to Ronald Reagan

Mike's America has issued an invitation to post a tribute in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Ronald Reagan's first inauguration. I have chosen to post Reagan's Bergen-Belsen Speech. In a few days, I'll post some of my own thoughts as to why our fortieth President continues to be venerated.
Remarks at a Commemorative Ceremony at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in the Federal Republic of Germany
May 5, 1985

Chancellor Kohl and honored guest, this painful walk into the past has done much more than remind us of the war that consumed the European Continent. What we have seen makes unforgettably clear that no one of the rest of us can fully understand the enormity of the feelings carried by the victims of these camps. The survivors carry a memory beyond anything that we can comprehend. The awful evil started by one man, an evil that victimized all the world with its destruction, was uniquely destructive of the millions forced into the grim abyss of these camps.

Here lie people -- Jews -- whose death was inflicted for no reason other than their very existence. Their pain was borne only because of who they were and because of the God in their prayers. Alongside them lay many Christians -- Catholics and Protestants.

For year after year, until that man and his evil were destroyed, hell yawned forth its awful contents. People were brought here for no other purpose but to suffer and die -- to go unfed when hungry, uncared for when sick, tortured when the whim struck, and left to have misery consume them when all there was around them was misery.

I'm sure we all share similar first thoughts, and that is: What of the youngsters who died at this dark stalag? All was gone for them forever -- not to feel again the warmth of life's sunshine and promise, not the laughter and the splendid ache of growing up, nor the consoling embrace of a family. Try to think of being young and never having a day without searing emotional and physical pain -- desolate, unrelieved pain.

Today, we've been grimly reminded why the commandant of this camp was named ``the Beast of Belsen.'' Above all, we're struck by the horror of it all -- the monstrous, incomprehensible horror. And that's what we've seen but is what we can never understand as the victims did. Nor with all our compassion can we feel what the survivors feel to this day and what they will feel as long as they live. What we've felt and are expressing with words cannot convey the suffering that they endured. That is why history will forever brand what happened as the Holocaust.

Here, death ruled, but we've learned something as well. Because of what happened, we found that death cannot rule forever, and that's why we're here today. We're here because humanity refuses to accept that freedom of the spirit of man can ever be extinguished. We're here to commemorate that life triumphed over the tragedy and the death of the Holocaust -- overcame the suffering, the sickness, the testing and, yes, the gassings. We're here today to confirm that the horror cannot outlast hope, and that even from the worst of all things, the best may come forth. Therefore, even out of this overwhelming sadness, there must be some purpose, and there is. It comes to us through the transforming love of God.

We learn from the Talmud that: ``It was only through suffering that the children of Israel obtained three priceless and coveted gifts: The Torah, the Land of Israel, and the World to Come.'' Yes, out of this sickness -- as crushing and cruel as it was -- there was hope for the world as well as for the world to come. Out of the ashes -- hope, and from all the pain -- promise.

So much of this is symbolized today by the fact that most of the leadership of free Germany is represented here today. Chancellor Kohl, you and your countrymen have made real the renewal that had to happen. Your nation and the German people have been strong and resolute in your willingness to confront and condemn the acts of a hated regime of the past. This reflects the courage of your people and their devotion to freedom and justice since the war. Think how far we've come from that time when despair made these tragic victims wonder if anything could survive.

As we flew here from Hanover, low over the greening farms and the emerging springtime of the lovely German countryside, I reflected, and there must have been a time when the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen and those of every other camp must have felt the springtime was gone forever from their lives. Surely we can understand that when we see what is around us -- all these children of God under bleak and lifeless mounds, the plainness of which does not even hint at the unspeakable acts that created them. Here they lie, never to hope, never to pray, never to love, never to heal, never to laugh, never to cry.

And too many of them knew that this was their fate, but that was not the end. Through it all was their faith and a spirit that moved their faith.

Nothing illustrates this better than the story of a young girl who died here at Bergen-Belsen. For more than 2 years Anne Frank and her family had hidden from the Nazis in a confined annex in Holland where she kept a remarkably profound diary. Betrayed by an informant, Anne and her family were sent by freight car first to Auschwitz and finally here to Bergen-Belsen.

Just 3 weeks before her capture, young Anne wrote these words: "It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them because in spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever approaching thunder which will destroy us too; I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I looked up into the heavens I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end and that peace and tranquility will return again.'' Eight months later, this sparkling young life ended here at Bergen-Belsen. Somewhere here lies Anne Frank.

Everywhere here are memories -- pulling us, touching us, making us understand that they can never be erased. Such memories take us where God intended His children to go -- toward learning, toward healing, and, above all, toward redemption. They beckon us through the endless stretches of our heart to the knowing commitment that the life of each individual can change the world and make it better.

We're all witnesses; we share the glistening hope that rests in every human soul. Hope leads us, if we're prepared to trust it, toward what our President Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. And then, rising above all this cruelty, out of this tragic and nightmarish time, beyond the anguish, the pain and the suffering for all time, we can and must pledge: Never again.

Note: The President spoke at 12:10 p.m. after laying a wreath at a camp memorial. Following his remarks, the President and Chancellor Kohl traveled to Bitburg.
President Reagan's famous Wall Speech is available here at The City Troll's site. Other speeches are available here.


At 1/14/2006 7:50 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...

I find it amazing that the same leftist rants about Bush were said eairlier about Reagan including the draft dodger bit. The far left needs a new playbook.

At 1/14/2006 8:47 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I wasn't terribly aware of politics until 9/11. But I clearly recall that Reagan, like GWB, was criticized for being dumb. In fact, he was frequently laughed at by the msm, particularly for some mannerisms of speech (which Reagan himself satirized) and for naivete. Of course, when Reagan died, most jumped on the bandwagon and praised him to the heavens.

I vaguely recall the draft-dodger bit, but I have no recollection of any of the details.

I guess the one thing that criticism of Reagan and GWB do NOT have in common has been age. Wasn't Reagan the oldest President? He was born in 1911, the same year as my father.

At 1/14/2006 10:33 AM, Blogger Ca... said...

Thanks for the links.

At 1/14/2006 11:11 AM, Blogger Mike's America said...

Like many of President Reagan's speeches this one too touches a direct emotional chord of truth that runs through our history.

Anyone who has ever been to one of the Nazi death camps knows exactly the feeling he describes. My own visit to Dachau, the first of the camps, left me with a feeling that the evil and horror committed there was still palpable, as if the voices of those interned could still be heard, if only faintly.

I remember standing next to a chapel located near the crematorium when a large bell immediately next to our small group began to toll. There was nothing we could do but stand there and look out onto this place and the feeling was very sad.

At Dachau is a large memorial that says in many languages "NEVER AGAIN."

And yet, we've seen that declaration ignored time and again.

When Reagan talked about the Jews murdered at Belsen "Their pain was borne only because of who they were and because of the God in their prayers;" he might just as well have been talking about the Shiites in Iraq, the mass graves of which are now being uncovered.

And when he describes the children who knew nothing but pain, he could very well be describing the little boy found in a mass grave in Iraq still clutching his last toy on this earth: a little red ball. The child was found along with hundreds of other children, and infants, shot execution style with a bullet to the back of the head.

see: (page down)

Photo evidence of Iraq mass graves:

At the end of World War II, our hope was that a United Nations organization would be effective in dealing with such genocide in a manner that would make war obsolete. Yet, as we have seen in Iraq, no United Nations resolution is strong enough to triumph by itself over determined evil.

The lesson from Belsen is that evil must be challenged on all fronts, but first we must acknowledge it for what is is.

In the case of Nazi Germany, too many were willing to look the other way in a vain attempt to buy peace or appease. The result was a nightmare that scarred the world forever.

Thanks for posting this AOW. There is much about this time, not so long ago, that is being forgotten.

This week will provide an excellent chance to remember and to reinforce the lessons of history so we may be spared the pain of repeating our mistakes.

At 1/14/2006 1:40 PM, Blogger elmers brother said...

Reagan was actually classified 4-F and so for his part in WWII he starred in training films and raised money for the war effort. Quite the man.

AOW, I like your new template

At 1/14/2006 1:46 PM, Blogger elmers brother said...

Sorry he wasn't 4F his eyesight prevented him from serving in a combat zone. Here is some info:

Ronald Reagan served in the Army Reserve [Calvary] well before World War II, volunteered for duty with combat units when the war started but was turned down because of uncorrectable eyesight problems, and still served from 1942 - 1945 -- and yes, it was making training films for the Army, but only because his eyesight prevented him from being in combat. That's where the Army ordered him to serve and like all of us, he went where he was ordered and did what he was told to do.

At 1/14/2006 1:49 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for stopping by. I checked your profile and see we have some interests in common. Then I clicked on your web page. Guess I'll be doing some exploring!

At 1/14/2006 1:53 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks for providing the information about why Reagan military service.

As to the change in template, see the previous article "Why Is My Face on TV?"

What a week! Blogger issues, home telephone on the fritz, resumption of classes after Christmas break, etc.

At 1/14/2006 2:09 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for that moving comment! I've never been to one of the concentration-camp sites. Visiting there must be tough.

One of the reasons I chose to post this particular one of Reagan's speeches is that I clearly remember the first time I read The Diary of Anne Frank. I was quite young and somehow hoped that the ending would be something other than the reality. I may not be explaining very well here, but I'm sure that some readers will know what I mean. I also had that same experience when I read about Beth in Little Women. Therefore, I understand this portion of the Bergen-Belsen Speech: we share the glistening hope that rests in every human soul. Hope leads us....

And these words of Anne Frank deeply affect me, no matter how many times I read them: "It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them because in spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever approaching thunder which will destroy us too; I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I looked up into the heavens I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end and that peace and tranquility will return again."

Mike: In the case of Nazi Germany, too many were willing to look the other way in a vain attempt to buy peace or appease.

And it's happening now, too, isn't it? Appeasement never works because, as you put it, evil must be challenged.

At 1/14/2006 4:05 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I have very fond memories of the Reagan era. That was a time of great hope for mankind. He and my then own Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, brought a touch of glamour to politics, and more than a heap of common sense. His glamour came from his Hollywood past, and Nancy; Mrs Thatcher's came from her ability to dazzle and sparkle and shine. (To say nothing of her power-dressing and big hair!)

Between them, they achieved much, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the defeat of communism. (Though the fall-out from this is far worse than they could ever have realized then!) They made a dynamic duo. Alas, it is doubtful that we will see the likes of them again for a long while to come. I think they threw the mould away long ago!

Ronald Reagan (like Maggie) had the happy knack of knowing what the people wanted. He wasn't known as 'the Great Communicator' for nothing!

Of course the media had a field-day making fun of him. But what a man! He had the courage to say what he truly thought, and he had the determination to make his wishes come true. Compare him with the politicians we are stuck with today - both sides of the Big Pond!

Poor old Ronnie was like the grandpaps everybody would have loved to lay claim to. He was a great guy.

Long may he rest in peace!

At 1/14/2006 4:14 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Iran will be disarmed long before that happens. Their bluff is based upon the overestimation of our charity in target selection. Asia losing their Iranian petroleum and natural gas energy supplies belongs in the "not our problem" file.

At 1/14/2006 4:20 PM, Blogger Dan Zaremba said...

Very few politicians did as much to actively change the world for the better than Ronald Reagan.

What a striking contrast with his predecessor!
He and Maggie gave new hope for many millions of people behind the iron curtain.

At 1/14/2006 5:14 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Ronald Reagan was the reason I joined the military after finishing college. No other president before or since has ever made me feel more proud to be an American.

At 1/14/2006 5:23 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Searchable database of speeches is here.

At 1/14/2006 6:05 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

My favorite Ronald Reagan speech:

August 3, 1981

The President. This morning at 7 a.m. the union representing those who man America's air traffic control facilities called a strike. This was the culmination of 7 months of negotiations between the Federal Aviation Administration and the union. At one point in these negotiations agreement was reached and signed by both sides, granting a $40 million increase in salaries and benefits. This is twice what other government employees can expect. It was granted in recognition of the difficulties inherent in the work these people perform. Now, however, the union demands are 17 times what had been agreed to -- $681 million. This would impose a tax burden on their fellow citizens which is unacceptable.

I would like to thank the supervisors and controllers who are on the job today, helping to get the nation's air system operating safely. In the New York area, for example, four supervisors were scheduled to report for work, and 17 additionally volunteered. At National Airport a traffic controller told a newsperson he had resigned from the union and reported to work because, ``How can I ask my kids to obey the law if I don't?'' This is a great tribute to America.

Let me make one thing plain. I respect the right of workers in the private sector to strike. Indeed, as president of my own union, I led the first strike ever called by that union. I guess I'm maybe the first one to ever hold this office who is a lifetime member of an AFL - CIO union. But we cannot compare labor-management relations in the private sector with government. Government cannot close down the assembly line. It has to provide without interruption the protective services which are government's reason for being.

It was in recongition of this that the Congress passed a law forbidding strikes by government employees against the public safety. Let me read the solemn oath taken by each of these employees, a sworn affidavit, when they accepted their jobs: ``I am not participating in any strike against the Government of the United States or any agency thereof, and I will not so participate while an employee of the Government of the United States or any agency thereof.''

It is for this reason that I must tell those who fail to report for duty this morning they are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.

At 1/14/2006 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of Reagan's greatest qualities was his unshakable faith in the American people. No matter what the politicians, cabinet members, advisoers, etc., said he never lost faith in the spirit of the citizens.

It was during the Reagan presidency that the military really started to shape up. The post Vietnam years saw too much force reduction, with little attention paid to maintaining a highly trained force. Systems were aging without replacements and there was little funding for repair parts. Ford didn't know what to do with the military and Jimma didn't need no stinkin' military; what, with so many social programs to fund... (I still can't believe the Navy named the most sophisticated attack submarine after him.) Thank heaven Ronald Reagan understood what a strong military would contribute to the goal of winning the Cold War.

President Ronald Reagan was the only Commander in Chief that I felt was genuinely concerned about the soldiers and their families. He was loved and appreciated by the military.

I have the deepest respect for President Ronald Reagan and what he was able to accomplish for our country. He truly was a great leader.

At 1/14/2006 7:15 PM, Blogger Pastorius said...

Reagan began planning his economic and ideological attack on the Soviet Union in the early 1950's. By the late 50's he was touring the country explaining exactly how to destroy the Soviet Union. When he took office in 1981, he put his plan into action. Within just ten years, the Soviet Union fell apart and the Berlin Wall came crumbling down.

And yet, Reagan's opponents, to this day, insist he was dumb.

We need more people as dumb as him.

At 1/14/2006 8:34 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Yeah, I know about those items you mentioned. Still and all, I maintain that Reagan was a good President. We probably disagree there.

I'm not being sarcastic here...In your opinion, who was the last President who didn't "sell out" the Constitution?

At 1/14/2006 10:31 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for bringing up Margaret Thatcher. I remember her appearance at Reagan's funeral. She must have thought so much of him because attending the events was so difficult for her, both emotionally and physically. We could use the likes of Thatcher and Reagan today. But the prevalence of pc has brought us low.

At 1/14/2006 10:33 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Old Soldier,
Reagan's optimism and belief in the future of America were two qualities which made him a leader. I agree with you that our fortieth Presidency respected and understood the importance and the humanity of the military.

At 1/14/2006 10:35 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

How well I remember the strike of the air-traffic controllers! I loved the way Reagan dealt with that.

Thank you for posting that speech.

At 1/14/2006 10:38 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I recall a resurgence of patriotism during Reagan's administration. I'm sure that he affected many others as he did you and me.

At 1/14/2006 10:39 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I believe that Reagan was a patriot first, a politician second. Do we see much of that today?

At 1/14/2006 10:42 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Pastorius & Eyes,
Reagan would not accept the idea of "It's impossible" when it came to defeating the enemy, which he identified as Communism. And he planned his strategy very carefully so as to defeat evil.

A lesson there for us today?

At 1/14/2006 10:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

City Troll,
I wonder how Reagan, were he alive today, would handle Ahmadinejad?

At 1/14/2006 10:46 PM, Blogger Mike's America said...

AOW: The first excerpts are up:

At 1/14/2006 11:16 PM, Blogger Mark said...


Thatcher had class! I, too, remember her at Reagan's funeral. She looked wonderful! It was, indeed, difficult for her to attend, having had some mini-strokes prior to that. But she made it to the funeral because she liked and respected Reagan so very much. They were soul-mates.

At 1/14/2006 11:52 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Reaganites lack reading comprehension skills.

Sez the man who believes a crystal-gazing, money counterfeiting, scam artist / terrorist was a prophet of a god from another planet.

At 1/15/2006 2:01 AM, Blogger Grizzly Mama said...

Wonderful tribute AOW. It was a very powerful speech.

At 1/15/2006 7:54 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I don't usually participate in blogbursts, but I'm doing so for this one, which will last through the week.

At 1/15/2006 9:44 AM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Maybe you should read the law just signed by Chimpymcwarhardon Bush.

How many times do I have to read it before I become a simpering moron member of a terrorist cult like you?

At 1/15/2006 11:30 AM, Blogger Mike's America said...

AOW: I hate the word "blogburst." Sounds like someone squeezed a giant pimple.

Oh... and "Reaganites lack reading comprehension skills?"

Gee... coming from the folks still struggling with the meaning of words like "is" and "sex" that's funny.

What your resident moonbat is suggesting, is that Reaganites don't swallow whole the socialist flavored kool-aid that the moonbats are serving at their Jim Jones tea parties.

Ah, but not all of us can afford to stick our heads in the sand can we?

At 1/15/2006 1:59 PM, Blogger David Schantz said...

When he was in office I couldn't stand the man. Now I find myself wondering how he would handle the mess our country is in today. God Bless President Reagan may he rest in peace.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

At 1/15/2006 3:57 PM, Blogger Esther said...

Great speech. He could be very inspiring.

At 1/15/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Dan Zaremba said...

AOW, Esther,
Reagan speaches were simple.
He didn't try to impress with his intellect.
He understood that winning over normal people was more important than showinng off to impress a few pompous, self-righteous, psedu-intellectuals who confuse knowledge of faulty socio-economic theories with knowledge.

At 1/15/2006 5:09 PM, Blogger Pastorius said...


You said Reagan wouldn't accept the idea of "It's impossible, when it came to confronting and defeating our enemies. You said that's a lesson for us today.

Yes, that's right. And, it, apparently, is a lesson Pope Benedict needs to learn as well.

At 1/15/2006 6:56 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Samwich: Reagan was an actor, nothing more.

I disagree on that one.

Just a thought here...RR's acting abilities were regularly slammed, but he seemed to be "a good actor" when it came to politics.

I guess that the truth is that there are lots of actors in politics. Both show business and the political sphere are filled with those who like their egos stroked. But I don't see RR as having a big ego.

I recall a film called Face in the Crowd, starring Andy Griffith, I think. Does anyone else recall that movie?

At 1/15/2006 6:58 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

The burdens of the office of President are very great. I wonder how many of us appreciate that fact.

My father used to say, "That's a job I wouldn't have!"

At 1/15/2006 7:03 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

When I posted the Bergen-Belsen Speech, I didn't know how famous it was. Late last night, I was listening to Dutch on audiotape and, according to the author, at Bergen-Belsen, the book's author felt that he had seen the human side of RR.

I don't know now accurate Dutch is, but so far the book is quite interesting.

At 1/15/2006 7:05 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Reagan made an effort to appeal to the "common man."

At 1/15/2006 7:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

"Blogburst" does have some funny connotations--but a useful term. I'm sure you prefer "tribute," and I understand that.

At 1/15/2006 7:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

IMO, every administration signs into laws which have tentacles. Would you agree?

At 1/15/2006 9:28 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Oh boo hoo Samwich. You want to cry about losing your rights and expect me not to make fun of you?

Hello dingbat, you're on the internet. Every intelligence agency on the planet worth their salt knows how many kernels of corn was in your shit this morning.

If you want the right to talk to terrorists on the phone, move the hell to Tehran.

At 1/17/2006 11:28 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Are you really so dumb to think the NSA only listens to phone calls? Anybody with a little knowledge can hide a message inside the code of a picture file that few outside the NSA's computer capabilities could hack. Our enemy is skilled. But so are we.

What we lack is human intelligence resources, agents on the ground, thanks to the purges of our assets by Democrat policy and leaked information from moles over the past 20 years. But that is recovering.

Seizure of documents from Iraq's intelligence agencies netted Al Qaeda cells from Manila to Paris and all points between.

This game is more complex than even you understand, Ducky.

At 1/18/2006 3:52 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

I forgot it was Wednesday - the day Ducky believes the United States is a naive rube in a world full of superior craftsmen of espionage and intelligence gathering.

Tomorrow we'll be back to the United States being the founder of every terrorist group currently plaguing us.

One wonders what would happen if someone put a brain cell inside Ducky's skull.

At 1/18/2006 3:59 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

You can pretend the terrorist cells picked up in Britain and France in 2003 shortly after Baghdad fell and the Baluchis Khalid Sheik Muhammad and others getting captured or killed all around the world was all a coincidence, but you still have to account for why all these have ties to Iraq's Mukhabarat.

At 1/18/2006 4:02 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Oh, and Friday, we'll be back to being right-wingers pissing ourselves over terrorism that could never happen here.

Then Saturday, we'll be creating terrorists by killing them, because it takes too long to get back to Sunday when the CIA trains them to be terrorists and unleashes them on Mondays and Tuesdays when we turn into racists with a hard on for stealing oil.

At 1/18/2006 7:25 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Ducky cycles?

At 1/19/2006 1:38 PM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


Ducky cycles?

As near as I can tell. Leftists, as you know, are physically incapable of rational thought. So any honest representation of the mind of Ducky is bound to be intentionally incoherent.


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