You wrote us that extraordinary letter， in your own hand， to let us know that you were falling victim to Alzheimer's disease .You spoke of other families suffering with the disease. You worried about your wife. Then you chose these words to comfort the nation： “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.”
Thank you again， I thought， showing us the way.
You've always had that capacity — not just because you're a natural leader， but because of your great personal strength. My mind went back to a day when we were all picking up our papers and leaving the table after a Cabinet meeting. I literally bumped into you. Now， I'm a pretty big guy， but it was like bumping into a redwood. And it struck me at the time — that’s you inside and out， solid in your stance， solid in your beliefs.
Your critics always said you weren't a “detail” man， Thank you for that. What great leader is？ There are plenty of people to handle the details. You knew instinctively that the President must above all lead.
I've been following your path for many years， from the day you invited me to come to Washington to be director of the National Endowment for the Humanities. I crossed my fingers， packed up and moved form North Carolina. It was a chance， I thought， to help make a difference in the world. I never realized what a different world it would soon be.
Thank you， too， for believing in us. When you came to the White House we were sinking in a sea of high taxes， high interest rates and low morale. Politicians and pundits alike told us that we had to resign ourselves to a new era of “ limits”。
You were undaunted. With an utter faith that government was the problem， not the solution. You released our creative energies and entrepreneurial spirit.
You cut the highest income-tax rate from 70 percent （yes， 70！） to 33 percent， energized investment by cutting the capital-gains tax， and brought tax relief to every income group.
Result： the longest peacetime rise in prosperity in the nation's history. During your Presidency interest rates dropped sharply， and inflation was slashed to less than three percent. Twenty million new jobs were created， most of them in the higher-skilled， high-tech， higher-paying areas. The average American family had thousands of dollars more a year to spend on its own needs instead of feeding the IRS.
Thank you， also， for creating for us almost an ideal of the way the Presidency should be carried.
Your manner sprang form the fact that even though you were President， you were always yourself. You never had to prove anything. I'll never forget the day you phoned me when I was Secretary of Education. The call came in out of the blue “ Hello， Bill，” came your familiar poem that pays tribute to teachers？“ you asked.
“No， Mr. President，” I confessed.
“Well， let me get it to you，” you answered.
I thought you'd get some side to look it up， copy it and fax it to my office. But no， you wrote it out longhand， from memory， and sent it over， as if you were a neighbor eager to share something.
Finally， Mr. President， thank you for being there when the nation needed your hope， your courage and sometimes just your reassurance. When the Challenger astronauts died before our very eyes in 1986， you put a comforting hand on our shoulders and spoke so simply. “I know it's hard to understand that sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery， It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted. It belongs to the brave.”