President Reagan, awarded an honorary degree at Georgetown University Saturday, told students his conservative credentials are intact after eight years in the White House and he remains the "same man I was when I came."
In a speech under sunny skies to mark the prestigious university's bicentennial celebration, the president also warned against the gloom and doom prophecies of the United States in decline that are floating about in the political season."It is sad to say, but the false prophets of decline have needlessly lost faith at a moment when they should be taking faith," Reagan told the students and faculty who sat mostly silently during the opening convocation ceremony.
"We are fast approaching a turning point in the history of this age," he said. "It will determine whether history will deem our time the Age of Freedom or the Age of Barbarism."
Reagan, dressed in blue and gray academic robes, was awarded an honorary degree of humane letters for his "great work for freedom and for peace." He sought to assure the audience that his personal philosophies and policies have not changed, apparently referring to his recent overtures to the Soviet Union, which he once dubbed the "Evil Empire."
He traveled to the Soviet Union last December to sign an historic arms agreement with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
"Contrary to some of the things you've heard, I am the same man I was when I came to Washington," Reagan said. "I believe the same things I believed when I came to Washington. And I think those beliefs have been vindicated by the success of the policies to which we held fast.
"But now, just at the moment when we are required by history to hold the line - to hold true to our principles and to apply the lessons of our learning, our faith and our freedom - some of our most distinguished and thoughtful people have taken a look at the world today and determined America is in decline," Reagan said. "America in decline!"