June 3rd, 2009
02:53 PM ET
5 years ago

Emotional Nancy Reagan unveils statue of former president

WASHINGTON (CNN) - An emotional Nancy Reagan on Wednesday helped unveil a statue of her late husband, President Ronald Reagan, calling the 7-foot figure "a wonderful likeness."

Mrs. Reagan paused during her brief speech at the ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, appearing to battle emotions as she mentioned her last visit to the marbled hall for Reagan's memorial in June 2004.

"It's nice to be back under happier circumstances," she said.

The statue is one of two from California in the National Statuary Hall Collection donated by states to honor significant figures.

Mrs. Reagan stood arm-in-arm with Rep. John Boehner, the House minority leader from Ohio, to pull down the curtain from the statue. She thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California for making the event possible.

In her remarks, Pelosi noted that the former president's statue contains pieces of the Berlin Wall, "as a symbol of his commitment to national security and to his success." The wall was torn down shortly after Reagan left office.

The former president is credited with polices that led to the break-up of the former Soviet Union and the dismantling of the wall that divided Berlin as a symbol of Cold War politics.

James Baker, a longtime Republican who served in the Cabinets of Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, recalled that Reagan inherited some major problems when he took office in 1981.

Citing the former president's trademark optimism, he quoted from Reagan's first inaugural address that "we are not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline."

Mrs. Reagan attended a White House ceremony Tuesday marking President Barack Obama's signing of legislation authorizing a Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission. The 11 member commission will plan activities marking Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday on February 6, 2011.


Filed under: Nancy Reagan • President Obama • Ronald Reagan
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Linda from Minnesota

    I'm sorry but I am not a Nancy Reagan fan. I am not sure why people think she is so classy. She hid Ronnie's Alzheimer's from people while he was president. We had a president the last 8 years who appeared to have Alzheimer's and look what that got us. All this Republican worship of Reagan amazes me. He cut more social programs than anyone. The mentally ill were left to fend for themselves on the street for gawd's sake.

    June 3, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Maria

    Having the statue made out with some of the pieces of the Berlin wall was an excellent idea!

    June 3, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It was a wonderful idea to have pieces of the Berlin Wall in the statue. Now all the conservatives have a likeness of their messiah to praise and worship.

    June 3, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. didi

    waste of time...

    June 3, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Classy, classy woman. All the best to you, Mrs. Reagan.

    June 3, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. Tulsa

    Wecould all take a lesson in dignity from Mrs. Reagan.
    signed, a Demcrat from Tulsa.

    June 3, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. DEBORAH GARCIA

    It warmed my heart to see the truly classy former First Lady, Mrs. Reagan on tv, decked in what is now known as "Nancy Reagan Red". back on the hill. More people should look to her as a lesson on how to behave, both in public as well as in private. They don't make like that anymore. Pity.

    June 3, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. dominican mama 4 Obama

    "It's nice to be back under happier circumstances," she said.

    Mrs. Reagan I've been following the news of your visit to the White House with the Obamas. You're a class act, and a credit to your political party. God bless.

    June 3, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Christian

    Such a worthy honor for Reagan, probably the greatest president in 60 years. A truly great example of how to lead a country out of a ditch and into prosperity.
    (Although, even though she was 'nice', he's probably rolling in his grave that Nancy Pelosi got to speak about him. Thats kind of a disgrace. )

    June 3, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Gary

    Ronald Reagan was a great man and a great President.... My biggest criticism of him has always been his large deficit spending. But now with Obama's aggressive borrowing and spending plan he will make Ronald Reagan (and George Bush) appear almost fiscally responsible. How did we allow Obama to sign bills that throw money at pork projects and earmarks and banks and car companies? How are we not irrate that Obama is going to borrow and additional $4 to $7billion dollars over the next 4 years? How are we so stupid and apathetic. We are borrowing against our children's future! We need a 3rd party option, a fiscally responsible 3rd party.

    June 3, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Franky

    I gotta say guys real quick...wasn't so sweet? I literally had a tear in my eye, she is so kind and sweet, that's so nice...

    And you guys don't let me know on my Tweet? Is cool, if you don't wanna be my friend, is cool, LOL!! Na'h, I'm playing but for real, u guys can hook it up...or unless u don't want me, LOL!!

    That was so nice, a very nice scenery. Heck, do you know what surprised us? When Nancy congratulated Pelosi and you can tell she not only tank her, but in the back of her mind is saying something, LOL!! We were like, "Say what?!" LOL!!! Like, "Nancy?" LOL!!! That was so nice, so sweet...

    You know guys, I'm gonna share with you a family secret we've been cherishing since 9/11...every Thanksgiving, or Christmas(or let's just say consequential holidays), we always pay respect to the people who lost their lives at the towers, I mean, every year, every year, that's what we do. We say a prayer and we pray for those in those times, especially families. We do that, if anybody wants to question my family's Patriotism, I'll make em look like fools...

    But for real, Nancy Pelosi? Say what?! LOL!!!

    June 3, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. Repub in VA

    I am very pleased with Obama and Pelosi for honoring Reagan. He was a legacy that deserves to be commemorated.

    June 3, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. I laugh at Limbaugh daily

    His statue should be on top of Mt.Pismore,in honor of the trickle down theory.

    June 3, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. democrat in Mich

    God Bless Nancy....

    June 3, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. the southern progressive

    nancy reagan is a true hero.

    June 3, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. PLUTO

    The statue closely resembled Reagan, with chiseled features and a head containing rocks and cement. He was still 100 times better than either Bush, though.

    June 3, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. Denise

    Please take this woman to McDonald's and give her a few mac burger's. She looks as if she has not eaten in weeks!

    June 3, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Barbara

    Happy to see we will celebrate and note President Reagan's 100th birthday. He was a great man.

    June 3, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Shirley In California Now On The Fence Re Obama

    Statute: Why can't CNN spell this word correctly?

    Ronald Reagan was no statute in many peoples memories during his reign. Under his two terms the middle-class became nearly extinct and he showed no sympathy or compassion towards anyone poor. Thank goodness I was only in my twenties and had lots of time to recover. I remember clearly what happened during Reagan's years and they are not good memories. Many people who had thrived on longevity on their jobs were let go and most programs were either discontinued or downsized. This was the beginning of the downfall of America. I am not impressed or teary-eyed and will always hate what Reaganomics did to our country. So please, Ms. Reagan take your tears someplace else.

    June 3, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Jamie Blakely

    Why wasn't this unveiling done in CA and then the statue moved to DC? Everyone knows Mrs Reagan is frail.

    June 3, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Gop

    I must say it makes me sick knowing Pelosi and Obama spoke at this event. Both of them should go back to their caves and not say a word about our president Reagan.

    She and the rest of the Democrats loathed Reagan while he was in office and now they come out an act like they had so much respect for him it about makes me want to puke.

    Reagan was the best president this country has seen in the last 100 years and he is very much missed by us that did care and respect the man.

    June 3, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Brian0901

    CNN, post this comment!

    In the rural area of PA. where I was born and raised there were several textile mills and a large crane manufacuterer where my father has worked for almost 40 years.

    Due to Reagan's polocies the textiles mills all closed. My father's employer experienced it's worse downturn in their history, their best was under Bill Clinton. I think a man with 40 years there would know. The unemployment offices in the 80's here were so busy that the lines were stretched out the door. My father was only working 1 week a month and my mother lost her job as did my grandfather. It was only under Pres. Clinton did we finally see some recovery

    I dare any reublican to tell me this did not happen.

    June 3, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. Keeth in California

    Reagan armed the Afghans, the Iranians, and the Iraqis. Now we have to clean up his mess. Reagan authorized illegal wars in Central America. He is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. He should not be celebrated this way. He was a war criminal.

    June 3, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Brian

    Reagan was a great American. Thank you Ronnie and Nancy.

    June 3, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Pete

    good, next time I am near it, I will make sure to defacate on it.

    June 3, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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