Remembering Margaret Thatcher

Many years ago wMargaret_Thatcherhen I was a college sophomore at Brigham Young University, I had the privilege to hear Margaret Thatcher speak on campus.  I will never forget that day.  Having heard that BYU would be awarding an honorary degree on Thatcher, I knew that I had to attend. Thatcher was someone whose name I grew up with.  Born in 1976, I am a child of the 80s. I knew well her influence and that she and Ronald Reagan had changed the world.
On the day of the event, I arrived at the auditorium and settled in the best seat I could find.  She came out and waved graciously to all of our applause.  As she waited for her turn to speak, I remember distinctly seeing her sitting on stage, head held high with dignity.  She stood to speak and the crowd was absolutely silent.  She proceeded to give the most powerful and moving speech I had ever heard,  receiving standing ovation after standing ovation.
Reading her words all of these years later, I am again reminded that truths don’t change over time.  Here are some excerpts:
  • “America, my friends, is the only country in the world actually founded on liberty— the only one. People went to America to be free. The Founding Fathers journeyed to this country across the perilous seas not for subsidies—there weren’t any—not to make a fortune even, but to worship God in their own way and by their example to perpetuate freedom and justice more widely.”
  • “I often wonder what would have happened if the Pilgrims with their faith had gone to Latin America in the south and the people from Spain who came for gold and to take the raw materials out of the ground and go back had come to the north. We should not have the great America today. But the point I make is this: Those Pilgrim fathers came with the faith that infused the whole nation. Yours is the only nation founded on liberty. And you’re founded on liberty because of that faith.”
  • “Indeed, to bring down the Iron Curtain without a shot being fired required far more from this country and from Britain than a policy based on expediency or pragmatism. They needed the confidence that comes from the belief that you are in the right.”
  • “President Reagan and I had the same beliefs and determination. We fought the battle of ideas in the Soviet Union and helped to end the terrible tyranny of communism. Liberty—the moral underpinnings. A rule of law—the moral underpinnings.”
  • “But I think those of us who believe as passionately as we do in a free society should put the case of capitalism much more positively than that it merely performs better. Capitalism is economic liberty. It is a vital element in the network of freedom. It is a moral quality, for it reflects man and his right to use his God-given talents. Remember the parable of the talents.”
  • “We now know—although I’ve found some people surprised when I say it—that countries are not rich in proportion to their natural resources. If you took a map of the world, put on it all the natural resources in each country, and thought that would give you a guide to the wealth of each country, you’d get it wrong—because if you look at natural resources, the wealthiest country in the world in terms of natural resources is Russia. It’s got everything. It’s got oil, it’s got gas, it’s got diamonds, it’s got platinum, it’s got gold, it’s got silver, it’s got all of the industrial metals that it can mine, it’s got marvelous timber, it’s got wonderful soil. But it had a government that did not allow the people to produce prosperity but instead planned them into poverty.”
  • “And who has the greatest voluntary effort in the world? Your country. You don’t shrink from looking after your  neighbor as yourself. It’s part of your creed. Your peak year for giving was 1992. I think you’d had twelve very good political years before that, as a matter of fact. During that year, your people gave $124 billion to voluntary causes— and that wasn’t the end of your voluntary work. Those who couldn’t give money gave their services, their effort. And there’s a long role of honor. It is said now that, of those who go to church, some 64 percent do voluntary work—more than three hours a week. You are the greatest voluntary nation in the world—again coming from those strong moral foundations.”
  • “No government at any level, or at any price, can afford, on the crime side, the police necessary to assure our safety unless the overwhelming majority of us are guided by an inner, personal code of morality. And you will not get that inner, personal code of morality unless children are brought up in a family—a family that gives them the affection they seek, that makes them feel they belong, that guides them to the future, and that will build continuity in future generations.”
  • “Now, my friends, we must never be complacent. We must never think that there will be perpetual peace. That is what they thought after World War I. We must be vigilant to see that we are fully and strongly equipped should anyone dare to, or want to, attack us. Dictators are frightened by the strength of others. They are attracted by weakness. Let us be vigilant to ensure that the great heart, as Winston would have put it, has his sword and armor to guard the pilgrims on their way.”

Read the whole speech here.

I will never forget the way I felt that day. She was right in every syllable. Margaret Thatcher knew exactly how special America is, even though many Americans don’t.

Lisa @