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Full Transcript: Ronald Reagan’s Statue of Liberty Centennial Speech

Full text of Ronald Reagan’ speech at Statue of Liberty Centennial on July 4th, 1986.

TRANSCRIPT:

President Ronald Reagan

My fellow Americans, in a few moments the celebration will begin here in New York Harbor. It’s going to be quite a show.

I was just looking over the preparations and thinking about a saying that we had back in Hollywood, about never doing a scene with kids or animals because they’d steal the scene every time.

So you can rest assured I wouldn’t even think about trying to compete with a fireworks display, especially on the 4th of July.

My remarks tonight will be brief, but it’s worth remembering that all the celebration of this day is rooted in history.

It’s recorded that, shortly after the Declaration of independence was signed in Philadelphia, celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former colonists, they were just starting to call themselves Americans, set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.

What a contrast with the silver seat was taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. 56 men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors.

And that was more than rhetoric. Each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the crown.

“We must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin said, “Or assuredly, we will all hang separately.”

And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script, so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity. On the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.

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