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Bush praises Reagan's "unbending" spirit at 90

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush paid tribute to Ronald Reagan on his 90th birthday Tuesday as a leader who "changed the world."

"Your achievements, Mr. President, are clear to all Americans. They are found in the spirit of our nation and the peace of the world," Bush said of the man his father served as vice president for eight years.

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"America knows the good heart that always guided you, the unbending principles that always defined you, the kindness and courage and inner grace that makes you the man you are."

Bush credited Reagan with bringing the four-decade standoff with the former Soviet Union to a close, saying, "America knows you came here 20 years ago and changed the world."

"You came here at a time when our country needed confidence. You told us we could be strong again, at home and abroad," he said. "And when you left, we were."

Reagan marked his birthday at home with family members in California. The former president retreated from public life in 1994 after announcing that he was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Friends say the illness has taken a heavy toll on the former president, who served from 1981 to 1989.

"It's sad to see somebody you love and have been married to for so long, and you can't share memories. That's the sad part," Reagan's wife Nancy told CNN's "Larry King Live."

Reagan was hospitalized last month after falling in his Bel Air home and breaking a hip. Following surgery, doctors said he was making remarkable progress but faces months of physical therapy.

Mrs. Reagan said her husband has not walked since the surgery, and she did not know when he would start again.



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