The One Nancy Reagan Quote You Should Remember

On Sunday morning, it was announced that former first lady Nancy Reagan died at the age of 94 in her home state of California. The former actress and wife of President Ronald Reagan had been a beloved icon, famous for her fashion and exquisite taste while living in the White House and respected for her work in U.S. politics. During her tenure as First Lady, she championed several causes, including lifting restrictions on stem cell research and promoting military veterans' welfare, but most passionately, she advocated for prevention of drug abuse among young adults.

In 1986, just before the National Crusade for a Drug Free America bill was signed into law, Reagan gave a joint address with her husband to the nation on the importance of staying drug free. From that momentous and powerful speech, one quote from Nancy Regan sticks out as especially important.

There's a big, wonderful world out there for you. It belongs to you. It's exciting and stimulating and rewarding. Don't cheat yourselves out of this promise.

In or out of context, this quote is inspirational and empowering. Reagan, who ascended to one of the most important and prominent posts in American society, truly lived this quote by taking full advantage of her influence to change the world for the better. Her campaign to prevent drug abuse in teenagers spawned more than 12,000 "Just Say No" clubs nationally, and by the time her husband left office, drug use had fallen significantly among high schoolers. Also thanks to her work, President Obama lifted the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, helping to advance science and hopefully the quality of life for millions of sick Americans.

Reagan was really a feminist ahead of her time, when feminism pretty much exclusively meant women's rebellion against traditional power structures. Reagan defended herself against critics, stating that "feminism is the ability to choose what you want to do." By standing up for her right to live her life as she chose, Reagan aided in expanding the definition of feminism for women and girls to come. Reagan set a positive example for millions of young men and women across the country during her time as first lady, and she will be dearly missed.