|Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice (second from right) was among the dignitaries on hand for yesterday’s unveiling of the Ronald Reagan statue in London. (Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)|
Statue of Reagan unveiled outside US Embassy in London
LONDON - Passersby at the American Embassy, in the heart of London’s upscale Mayfair district, were greeted yesterday morning by the disembodied voice of Ronald Reagan drifting through the air from large speakers - a prelude to the unveiling of a $1 million bronze statue of the former president here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.
In defiance of the usual Fourth of July sentiments, American and British flags were intertwined and placed into perfectly trimmed hedges in leafy Grosvenor Square.
Hundreds of guests demonstrated the much-vaunted special relationship by lining up patiently, in the accepted British style, for American cuisine in the form of Fresh ‘n’ Tasty Jumbo Hot Dogs and Dippin’ Donuts.
As the brass band of the US Army Europe struck up “America the Beautiful,’’ an assembly of grandees - most of them conservatives like Reagan’s former speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice - as well as a congressional delegation led by the House majority whip, Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, mingled with leaders of Britain’s governing Conservative Party.
Among those representing the British government were the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne; the minister of defense, Liam Fox; and the foreign secretary, William Hague.
The statue of Reagan was paid for by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation as part of a worldwide effort to promote his legacy, according to John Heubusch, the organization’s executive director.
Similar events have been held in the last few days in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.
Inscribed on the statue is a quote from his friend Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister.
“Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War,’’ it reads, “without firing a single shot.’’ (Some British commentators suggested that oversimplifies the matter and ignores the contributions of Eastern European dissidents.)
Hague called Reagan “a great American hero.’’