by Cory Rigali

Last Friday I spent a couple of hours watching President Reagan's funeral. In the evening I went to a high school graduation. I heard one of the graduates, Cory Rigali, give the following tribute to the President during the commencement exercises. I'm printing it here with his permission.

- Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

Former President Reagan died on Saturday, as you all know. President Bush declared that today is to be a national day of mourning for our former President. I'd like to take a moment of my allotted time to thank God for President Reagan.

Born February 6, 1911, President Reagan lived to be in the public eye. In 1932, he began acting and announcing sports games. He was also the President of the Screen Actors Guild for five years. Then, in 1967, he became the governor of California, a position he held for 8 years. In 1980, he defeated Jimmy Carter for the presidency of the United States.

His "Reaganomics" helped the nation to become financially stable once again, after a time of discouragement and recession. He also ordered massive defense spending, to build a military arsenal to stand up to the Soviet Union. He also supported the "Star Wars" Initiative, which was so costly a venture that Soviet leaders surrendered under the staggering weight of competing with the United States to develop such a program.

Early in his presidency, an assassination attempt was made on President Reagan's life. In March of 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to murder the President while he was leaving a Washington hotel after a speech.

Not losing his trademark wit and optimism, he said to his wife, "Honey, I forgot to duck," quoting the words of Jack Dempsey, a boxer, relating his loss of a fight to his wife. He then said to the doctors, "I hope you're all Republicans."

In the re-election campaign, he defeated the Democratic ticket with an amazing sweep of 49 states, losing only Walter Mondale's home state of Minnesota.

All in all, the President took a stand against the air traffic controllers when those 11,000 federal employees conducted an illegal strike that established his credibility as a man who meant what he said and would not be bullied. He then stood toe to toe with Gorbachev, quashed a communist coup on the island of Grenada, and stood against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Reagan brought a conservative flavor to the White House that continues to affect us today. He was labeled "The Great Communicator" for his speech making ability and touching dialogue. He was a man of prayer, and greatly used of God for the benefit of our country. America is all the better for Ronald Reagan, and I thank God we had such a president.

We must never look to a political figure for our country's salvation, even so wonderful a president as Ronald Reagan. But neither let us make the mistake of being ungrateful to God for giving us such a man as this.

Now, I'd like to ask you all for a moment of silence to honor the President.