Inside the Reagan Library: Post-Presidency

“And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.” — Ronald Reagan, Farewell Radio Address, 1/11/1989

After President and Mrs. Reagan left the White House, they cherished their time together in California. But President Reagan also kept up an active schedule of speeches and public events. In this video podcast we take a closer look at President Reagan’s time, post-presidency.

After his years in the White House, Ronald Reagan continued to spread his lifelong message of freedom. He delivered talks in Great Britain, Japan, Poland and the Soviet Union, among other nations.

He made appearances at many events across the United States, from the Goodwill Games in Seattle to Dwight Eisenhower’s boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas.

People, organizations and countries around the globe wanted to thank President Reagan for his service. Great Britain and Japan bestowed on him their highest honors. He was one of only 12 foreign citizens ever inducted into Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in France.

In 1992, Ronald Reagan stirred the Republican National Convention with his irrepressible patriotism and optimism:

“Who among us,” he asked, “would trade America’s future for that of any other country in the world?”

In the post-presidential gallery within the walls of the Reagan Library, we celebrate citizen Reagan by highlighting some of the speeches he gave and some of the awards and gifts he received following his time in the White House.

President Reagan’s first post-presidential speech was in March 1989 to the students at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. In gratitude, they presented him with this surfboard.

In June of 1989, President Reagan traveled to Great Britain where he received an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath.

In 1993, Ronald Reagan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President George H. W. Bush. President Reagan became only the third President to receive this award, and the first to receive it in his own lifetime.

During the ceremony, President Bush remarked:

“Today we honor the American life of an American original… As President, Ronald Reagan helped win one for freedom, both at home and abroad. And I consider him my friend and mentor, and so he is. And he’s also a true American hero…Some men reflect their times. Ronald Reagan changed his times.”

On November 5, 1994, Ronald Reagan wrote this letter to the American people, revealing that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Actual Letter From Reagan, Displayed at the Ronald Reagan Library
“My fellow Americans, I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.”

He and Mrs. Reagan believed that in opening their hearts and releasing the letter to the American people that they might promote greater awareness of the disease.

“I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”

President Reagan’s last few years were spent primarily at home, but the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, the sole nonprofit organization created by President Reagan himself continued to carry out his work, as it still does today.

Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Bob Hope and others have been awarded The Ronald Reagan Presidential Freedom Award. Multiple presidential debates have been held. Millions of dollars in college scholarships have been granted. And leaders of politics, academia, media and business continue to come out to the Reagan Library to speak at public forums.

“And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way. . . May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism. And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill.”