Also on the foreign affairs front, Reagan sent 800 U.S. Marines to Lebanon as part of an international peacekeeping force after Israel invaded that nation in June 1982. In October 1983, suicide bombers attacked the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans. That same month, Reagan ordered U.S. forces to lead an invasion of Grenada, an island in the Caribbean, after Marxist rebels overthrew the government. In addition to the problems in Lebanon and Grenada, the Reagan administration had to deal with an ongoing contentious relationship between the United States and Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi (1942-). During his second term, Reagan forged a diplomatic relationship with the reform-minded Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-), who became leader of the Soviet Union in 1985. In 1987, the Americans and Soviets
signed a historic agreement to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. That same year, Reagan spoke at Germany’s Berlin Wall, a symbol of communism, and famously challenged Gorbachev to tear it down. Twenty-nine months later, Gorbachev allowed the people of Berlin to dismantle the wall. After leaving the White House, Reagan returned to Germany in September 1990—just weeks before Germany was officially reunified–and took several symbolic swings with a hammer at a remaining chunk of the wall. 1984 REELECTION AND IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR In November 1984, Ronald Reagan was reelected in a landslide, defeating Walter Mondale and his running mate Geraldine Ferraro (1935-), the first female vice-presidential candidate from a major U.S. political party. Reagan, who announced it was “morning again in America,” carried 49 out of 50 states in the election and received 525 out of 538 electoral votes, the largest number ever won by an American presidential candidate. RONALD REAGAN’S LATER YEARS After leaving the White House in January 1989, Ronald Reagan and his wife returned to California, where they lived in Los Angeles. In 1991, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum opened in Simi Valley, California. In November 1994, Reagan revealed in a handwritten letter to the American people that he had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Nearly a decade later, on June 5, 2004, he died at his Los Angeles home at age 93, making him the nation’s longest-lived president (in 2006, Gerald Ford surpassed him for this title). Reagan was given a state funeral in Washington, D.C., and later buried on the grounds of his presidential library.
- Summer '11
- President Ronald Reagan