For a brief moment, Salt Lake City became the golden city on the hill.
Ronald Reagan visited Utah eight times before he even took office. Once he did win the White House, Reagan came to the Beehive State on three occasions, KSL reported.
His first visit occurred on Sept. 9, 1982, when he spoke in the city of Hooper and visited the LDS Church’s cannery facility. He came back in October, where he spoke at the Salt Palace, where the Mormon Tabernacle also performed. In September 1984, Reagan came back and spoke at the American Legion Convention once again at the Salt Palace.
Reagan met some notable Utah names when he was in town. He spoke with LDS Church Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson, who joined Reagan with a visit at the Ogden Deseret Cannery and Bishop’s Storehouse, according to the Deseret News.
Reagan also spent time with Sen. Orrin Hatch while Reagan was a presidential candidate.
When he visited in 1982, Reagan talked about unemployment and job creation, a major issue for Utahns at the time, according to the American Presidency Project. He quoted Brigham Young during his speech, too.
Reagan also championed for more religion in schools and creating an America that would look to help families.
“But there are other matters that all of us up here must take up. The matter of prayer in schools. I don't think God should ever have been expelled. There is that balanced budget amendment that we must have. There is tuition tax credits for those parents who are sending their children, perhaps, to a church school or an independent school at the same time they pay the full burden for supporting the public school. And I think they should get some recognition of that fact and some relief for the fact that they are supporting two school systems,” Reagan said. “And there is another problem very close to my heart: that more than a million unborn children every year are being denied the right to life. And I think it is time that we decide that unless and until someone can prove to us that the unborn are not truly living creatures, then we morally should adopt the principle that they are, until it can be proven otherwise.”
In October 1982, Reagan also spoke at the Utah Republican Party rally in Salt Lake City to help make sure that the state supported GOP candidates.
While he also spoke about critical issues, he said it was most important for voters to embrace optimism with their ballots.
“Please do me one favor,” he said. “I know how you feel, but mobilize an army of Republicans, Democrats and independents between now and Tuesday. Tell the good people of Utah: Vote for your hopes, not your fears. Vote for your children's future. Vote for your children's future and not the return of a failed past.”
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.