June 3rd, 2009
02:53 PM ET
13 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. Rob

    So let's hear you so-called 'peace-loving' libs tear into Mrs. Reagan on this one.

    June 3, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. kevin

    Pity he didn't take care of this country like he was voted to do. Example, during his term, he had taken away from the American people the write offs on credit card interests and automobile loan interests, this angered people to no end and still does today, it should be put back, this would help in the long term in the form of a bailout to people, but no, he wanted to go over there to make a name for himself to get a wall torn down. If he spoke up for his own people in this country instead of for his cronies, he would have been a great president, but yet they put his name on a government building here in Washigton, as well as on an airport here and now a statue for him in the capitol . Looks more like idol worship than accomplishments!!!!

    June 3, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. miller

    This story is worthless without a photo of the statute.

    June 3, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Liz

    I love Nancy Reagan and Ronald Reagan.

    The Reagan Library in Simi Valley , California is a really cool tribute to their love of each other and all the very interesting stuff that happened during their time in the White House.

    June 3, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. Scott

    At least I'll have a place to stick my gum when I visit the Capitol.

    June 3, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. michael black

    I think it is wonderfull that Ronald Regan is being honored in this way. He was, indeed, a great president, despite ignorant comments to the contrary.

    I also applaud President Obama for his recognizing the worth of others. He too will become a great figure in our history books...

    June 3, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. obambi

    Pelosi does not deserve to be in the same room as Nancy.

    June 3, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. John Q. Public

    Reagan made some great "Lash LaRue" movies in the fifties, but I heard he was a Communist.

    June 3, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Felonious Monk

    Why are we erecting statues to this monster?
    Reagan was, and probably still is, the biggest drug dealer on the face of the planet.
    does anyone remember Iran-Contra. I know, let's sell drugs, take the profits and funnel the money to someone we are not supposed to be in business with. Arms for hostages, nice work.

    June 3, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. kevin

    to bad the Gipper wasn't still around. We need him now more than ever. God bless ronald reagan. God bless ronald reagan. My he always rest in peace

    June 3, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. Candy West Virginia

    Hey rethuglicans, this is what is known as 'reaching across the isles' a concept very foreign to your leaders.

    June 3, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Claudia in Houson

    This is great, but would like to see a picture of the statue. God Bless Nancy Reagan.

    June 3, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. WhoCares?

    Are Nancy and Ron (the son) on speaking terms?

    June 3, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Peter E

    I would have held out against any celebration of Reagan until we cleaned up the mess he created. He sold weapons to Iran. He sold weapons, including chemical weapons to Iraq. He armed and funded the muhajaden of Afghanistan who later became the Taliban. All of our wars today are a result of his arming and funding of those enemies. And he did it all on your taxpayer money!

    June 3, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. 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 republican to tell me this did not happen.

    June 3, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Tommy

    Wonderful, I liked her, had dinner with her the President, greatest event of my life – I enjoyed it and was proud to be in their company

    June 3, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. AndyB

    Yep that's what we need a monument to red ink Reagan. One of the worst presidents in American history.

    June 3, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. skyhawkdriver

    A fine tribute to the finest president of my lifetime..I will always remember president reagen helping me feel proud to be an american again after the four years of the fiasco of jimmy carter..thank you ronnie reagen

    June 3, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. TM in CO

    I am not a registered Repulican, but Ronald Regan is one that I would vote for all over again......................

    June 3, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Candy Wilson

    I loved President Reagan.. He reminded me of my father... But then again I am married to Ronald Wilson.. Go Figure.. But now I have a "thing" for the new President....No matter how old we girls can all be crazy Have a Good Day!

    June 3, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  21. ch

    Great – just what we need. A seven foot monument to the president who lied under oath about arming the contras. Not to mention presiding over a recession, running up a huge budget deficit, ignoring the poor and heading one of the most dysfunctional families to ever reside in the White House.

    Anyone who needs a refresher on how dysfunctional the family was can read the book that Reagan’s daughter wrote called “The Way I See It” which describes just how poorly Ronnie and his beloved Nancy reared their family. Or you may want to check out her nude spread in “Playboy” – very classy.

    How about a 14 foot monument to Bill Clinton – the president who created 22 million jobs, balanced the budget, created a budget surplus, stopped ethnic cleansing in Bosnia without the loss of a single American life, implemented Family and Medical Leave, left office with the highest approval rating in history and managed to raise a bright, classy poised, well-adjusted daughter who has not written a book about how horrible her parents are?

    June 3, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. Peter E

    Hey mass media! Instead of unquestioningly idolizing this 'icon' why don't you show the facts for a change! The fact that Reagan sold weapons to Iran to fund terrorists! (Iran-Contra scandal) The fact that we gave funding and weapons, including WMDs to Saddam because of Reagan! That Reagan funded and armed the muhajaden who became the Taliban in Afghanistan! Every one of our current wars are against enemies Reagan armed! He created an atrocious mess that continues to kill thousands of American soldiers!

    June 3, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. Texan

    God bless Mrs. Reagan.

    June 3, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  24. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    It's great to have such memorances of our truly great presidents, since it's been such a long time we've had one. Make sure Russ Feingold is kept far away from Mrs. Reagan and the memorial, since he is NOT welcome.

    We need a Ronald Reagan today more than ever; unfortunately we have a dangerous and self-obsessed Ronald McDonald.

    June 3, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. Independant from NY

    I'm sure as soon as they saw the statue, neo-cons across America got a huge Boehner

    June 3, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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