Toasts at the State Dinner for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The President. Ladies and gentlemen,
Nancy and I welcome you tonight to this dinner in honor of Prime Minister
Thatcher of the
1952, when Winston Churchill had become Prime Minister for the second time and
all the troubles of the cold war -- including the hardships of rearming the
West -- were keenly felt, he was having a meeting with a group of American
When you were here 8 years ago, I first mentioned that despite all the troubles that beset us, we had every right to have hope in the future, to turn our gaze to the bright sunlit uplands of freedom. I suggested then that the totalitarian impulse had exhausted itself and that collectivism could well be at the terminal stage. Well, we've recently seen evidence that all of this may be coming about. Tonight we can hope this is so and that it will continue. We can hope that the altruism that has stood at the heart of the alliance of democratic nations in the postwar era will continue to bear fruit until the whole world is safe and free.
In this quest, those who love freedom have not had a better friend than our distinguished guest this evening. And so I hope, Prime Minister, it will not embarrass you if I take a moment now to record, for personal reasons and for the sake of history, our debt of gratitude to you.
my Presidency, Prime Minister Thatcher has shared with me the benefits of her
experience and wisdom. The Prime Minister's untiring support for NATO has
encouraged other allies to make the difficult decisions necessary to keep the
alliance strong. Her successful fight to unshackle the British economy from
government intervention and to provide greater economic freedom has been a
powerful example around the world. She is a leader with vision and the courage
to stay the course until the battles are won. And on occasion, she has borne
the added burden of heavy criticism incurred on
I've been fortunate over these 8 years and for several years before that to enjoy such a close professional and personal rapport and a genuine friendship with Margaret Thatcher. Some of our predecessors were lucky enough to have had a similar partnership: Lloyd George and Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. In each instance, both our nations have been enriched. At the same time, I believe we've added to the great stream of Anglo-American history and helped strengthen the tradition of a special relationship between the leaders of our two nations.
impact of Mrs. Thatcher's leadership at home and abroad secures her place in
history. When we look back to 1979, the year she led the Conservative Party
into office, the
will not recite the impressive evidence showing how brilliantly the Prime
Minister has succeeded over the last 9 years in leading
the Prime Minister applied her formidable talents to foreign policy, the
results were much the same. She approached
we're faced with a Soviet leadership eager for a change and for better
relations with the West. We stand ready to work with the Soviets to resolve our
differences. But we must not lose sight of the policies and vision that have
served us well in the past, and that the spirit and leadership of Prime
Minister Thatcher have strengthened and sustained. And we must not lose hold of
her patience in pursuit of our long-term objectives: vigilance in defense of
our liberties and determination in advancing the cause of human rights. Beyond
The Prime Minister was already well established in office when I began my first term almost 8 years ago. As I prepare to depart this office in January, I take considerable satisfaction in knowing that Margaret Thatcher will still reside at Number 10 Downing Street, and will be there to offer President Bush her friendship, cooperation, and advice.
a world leader in every meaning of the word. And Nancy and I are proud to claim
the Thatchers as our friends, just as
Audience members. Hear! Hear!
The Prime Minister. Mr. President, ladies
and gentlemen. First, let me say a heartfelt thank you for the magnificent
hospitality which you and Mrs. Reagan have extended us this evening and
throughout the visit. I think we all realize this is a very special occasion
and we're all delighted to be here with you. And thank you, too, for giving us
the honor of being the first official guests in the beautifully transformed
Blair House. It really is marvelous. And I would like to thank all of those who
took part in doing it up. I hope Anthony Acland will
forgive me for saying that it surpasses even that modest little log cabin up
Mr. President, I have a particular feel this evening. You were so very generous
in your remarks about me, then very kindly said that I
was still going to be around. And I think the important thing about this
evening is that we all want to pay a very great tribute to you for your
Presidency for which we're all so grateful. And I'm really rather proud that it
falls to the 49th Prime Minister of the
that is quite historic. There haven't been many times when the Prime Minister
And as I look back over the past 8 years of our time in office together, what I remember best -- I remember the dark days of the early part of this decade when both our countries were grappling with inflation and recession. You referred to it in your speech. And when you told me, at the British Embassy in 1981, that for all our economic difficulties we would be home safe and soon enough -- it's a lovely phrase. Only you could have thought of it -- home safe and soon enough. We could never be wholly without economic problems, but you can rightly take tremendous pride in the 71 continuous months of expansion of the American economy.
remember, too, your brave words in the British Parliament a year later, words
which have echoed round the world, when you asked a question, ``What kind of people
do we think we are?'' -- and answered it by
proclaiming, ``Free people, worthy of freedom, and determined not only to
remain so, but to help others gain their freedom, too.'' I remember also your
historic address in another ancient hall in
And I remember vividly the feeling of sheer joy at your election 8 years ago -- knowing that we thought so much alike, believed in so many of the same things, and convinced that together we could get our countries back on their feet, restore their values, and create a safer and yet a better world. Together we've been able to demonstrate the truth of Winston Churchill's words about our two peoples in the House of Commons in the last days of the war, when there in the House, he said this: ``As long as our people act in absolute faith and honor to each other and to all other nations, they need fear none and they need fear nothing.''
Mr. President, you've been more than a staunch ally and wise counselor; you've also been a wonderful friend to me and my country. A friend whose cheerful bravery in the face of personal danger and of illness overcome we have all admired, and whose optimism and kindness have never been worn down by the pressures and preoccupations of your high office. Mr. President, it's when you believe in something as strongly as you do that you are given strength to take you through difficult times. And your belief has taken you through those difficult times.
Ten years ago, Mr. President, in a letter to a young Republican, you explained what it meant to be an American, and in describing the personality of the people of this land, you cited Winston again, Winston Churchill's observation that Americans seem to be the only men who can laugh and fight at the same time. [Laughter] Mr. President, you are one of those men -- a combination of true valor and gentle good humor.
celebrating your qualities and achievements, I also pay tribute to that special
person who stood by your side in all your endeavors. You don't need me to tell
you, Mr. President, that in the First Lady of the
back on it all, what do we see? I can do no better, Mr. President, than repeat
your own favorite verdict on a film script. ``That story,'' Sam Goldwyn once
said, ``is wonderful! It's magnificent! It's prolific!'' [Laughter] So, too,
Mr. President, have been the Reagan years. And we draw strength from the
knowledge that your successor is someone who represents all that is best in
Mr. President, the nature of mankind is such that the struggle for freedom can never be over. But it's a tribute and a testament to your Presidency that, as you leave office and make your way westward, back to California, we know that you have brought to fulfillment the famous prophesy of an English poet: ``And not by eastern windows only, when daylight comes, comes in the light; in front the sun climbs slow, how slowly. But westward, look. The land is bright.''
Ladies and gentlemen, the President -- the President and Nancy.
Note: President Reagan spoke at in the State Dining Room at the White House.