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US Celebrates Life of President Reagan on His 100th Birthday

President Reagan

President Reagan

The United States is marking the 100th birthday of the late President Ronald Reagan, who served two terms in the White House during the 1980's.

Reagan was 93 when he died in June of 2004 after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer's disease.

The highlight of Sunday's birthday celebration is taking place at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, where his widow, Nancy Reagan, lays a wreath at his gravesite as fighter jets from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan fly overhead.

The 40th U.S. president, Reagan won praise around the world for helping end the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union, and it was in 1987 during memorable remarks at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, that he appealed to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

Reagan, who inspired a feeling of optimism among many Americans, led a so-called conservative revolution and became known as "the Great Communicator."

He entered politics in 1966 by winning election as governor of California, serving two terms before moving on to the White House in January of 1981. His inauguration as president came on the same day the American hostages were released in Tehran, Iran, after being held captive for 444 days.

The centennial celebration will be a year-long occasion that will include film showings, essay contests, and musical tributes.