I didn't think I would feel as sad as I do. I knew it was only a matter of time once communication with friends stopped in 1997, so I thought I was prepared. However seeing the funeral procession and Nancy embrace his coffin, I couldn't help but cry and feel the great loss to the nation. He was, without question, the greatest President of my lifetime.
While there were those that wanted to divide us by our differences, he sought to unite us through our commonality. He brought hope to a nation that had thought it was doomed to a malaise forever. He re ignited engines of growth and the flames of liberty. His optimism was contagious, and made us all believe that our best days were yet to come. He was hated by those who wished to suppress freedom, but loved by those who valued liberty. He tore down the walls of tyranny and shone freedoms light into the dark recesses of oppression. He taught us that one man can change the world for the better.
I do not claim to be as eloquent a speaker, nor as proficient with words as he, so I think it's fitting to use a few of his own:
You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits."
It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government." This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.
We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.