Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been selected by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute to be the latest recipient of the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award.
The announcement was made Monday that, “for his courageous fight against tyranny and for his indomitable stance for freedom and democracy,” Zelenskyy would become the 11th individual to be honored with their prestigious award.
Fred Ryan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the foundation was joined by Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States Oksana Markova when he delivered the news that Zelenskyy would receive the award.
“The world applauds President Zelenskyy and all that he stands for,” Ryan said, listing “democracy, individual liberty, freedom, and hope. These are the values and principles that Ronald Reagan fought for all his life and what his foundation promotes today.”
“President Zelenskyy’s devotion to the cause of freedom is truly a symbol of man’s highest aspiration,” Ryan added.
In the video montage that was released as part of the announcement, audio of President Reagan can be heard as images from the Russian invasion of Ukraine showing the destruction and reaction of the people are played.
“As Americans, we know that freedom is as much a part of us as our blood,” Reagan said. “It’s not a commodity, it can’t be bought, can’t be sold, it can’t be bartered away. The truth is that the word freedom is deceptively simple. It’s a word that describes the God-given condition of the human soul.”
“Tyranny is a parasite. It saps the strength of a nation in its way. I look at you and I know I’m looking at people who have seen and suffered the full gamut of totalitarian terror. You are men and women of courage; heroes who have devoted a lifetime to struggle for God’s greatest gift for freedom,” Reagan’s overlay continued.
Zelenskyy, who is reported to have survived three mercenary attempts on his life in one week, has remained in Ukraine throughout the crisis providing regular updates to his people as he coordinates efforts for defense and humanitarian aid with global leaders.
Describing his platform as “anti-corruption” and focused on “national unity,” the foundation stated that Zelenskyy had “earned the respect of Ukraine” and “the world by refusing to flee the capital, urging Ukrainians to resist, and crafting a successful communications strategy that has won over European leaders and citizens.”
For these reasons, he joins the likes of General Colin Powell, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Goodwill ambassador Bob Hope, and the first-ever Ronald Reagan Freedom Award recipient, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
On June 12, 1987, the President of the Soviet Union Gorbachev was challenged by Reagan during a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin to “Tear down this wall.” Nearly two and a half years later, that challenge was met and Reagan’s position to “stand against totalitarianism, particularly imperialistic expansionist totalitarianism” was realized.
“We,” Reagan said, “are for democracy and human rights.”
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