Ronald Reagan’s 4th of July Speech to Constituents

July 01, 2019
IN HIS WORDS

Ronald Reagan’s 4th of July Speech

When it comes to presidential 4th of July speeches, Ronald Reagan is known to have topped them all. It’s no wonder that the Great Communicator would be remembered for his poignant addresses, but it wasn’t just the way Reagan delivered these speeches that have made them such an important part of his legacy — it was also the universality and timelessness of his messages.

Take his 1986 address, for instance. In it, Reagan sought to unify the country, successfully illustrating the power that each and every American has individually — and the strength that power can represent when unified. “All through our history,” he said, “our presidents and leaders have spoken of national unity and warned us that the real obstacle to moving forward the boundaries of freedom, the only permanent danger to the hope that is America, comes from within.” Reagan delivered these words at a time of great social and political upheaval in the country: from the Challenger explosion to tensions with the Soviet Union. The president sought to inspire and motivate Americans to band together to overcome obstacles, subtly tying the issues of the time to the nation’s longstanding history of drawing strength from the unity of its people.

That theme has carried through many other presidential 4th of July speeches from Reagan’s successors. President George Bush heralded the holiday as a “time to rejoice” in the country’s success, “which has inspired all those who seek to break the shackles of totalitarian rule and breathe in the life-giving air of liberty.” In 1993, President Bill Clinton noted that “our people have always known that government could not solve all the problems and that citizens had to be responsible to build this nation together.” More than 20 years later, President Barack Obama noted that the country’s earliest patriots all came from different backgrounds and beliefs, “but they were unified by a belief in a simple truth: that we are all created equal.”

All of these presidential 4th of July speeches have sought to drive home the points Reagan also communicated — that, despite differences and challenges, all Americans can and should rally around the founding principles that have driven our country for centuries: that we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that these aims are all more attainable when we work together.

 

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