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A Look Back: Margaret Thatcher's visit to Abilene in 2000

By Kelly Killian, Kelly Killian, kkillian@ktxs.com
Published On: Apr 09 2013 06:28:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 08 2013 08:51:57 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited Abilene on October 23, 2000.

Margaret Hoogstra said Thatcher's visit was a "blockbuster event" in Abilene and one she will never forget.

"She had a warmth about her, a wit about her, and was gracious in every situation," Hoogstra said.

"Our world has truly lost a great lady," she added.

The "Iron Lady" died peacefully in her sleep the morning of April 8, 2013 after suffering a stroke.

Thatcher was the guest of honor and keynote speaker at the Annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet at the Abilene Civic Center. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was on hand to introduce the former PM.

"When she took to the podium and spoke it was absolutely incredible. You could've heard a pin drop literally, because she held the audience in her hand," Hoogstra said.

According to the KTXS archives, Thatcher said she was happy to be in Abilene, and she loved Texas. She said she had many friends and some family in the state.

"History has taught us that freedom cannot long survive unless it is based on moral foundations," Thatcher said during her address.

She placed a lot of emphasis on Christian values as the basis for her leadership.

While the event didn't mark Thatcher's first visit to the state, it was her first visit to West Texas.

The former prime minister praised the way America used its power to promote freedom. She said freedom is ultimately a religious quality.

At the end of the event Thatcher took some audience questions.

One person asked her what she thought of President Bill Clinton's indiscretions, and she responded by saying the only thing that concerned her was his effectiveness as a leader, and she was pleased with him in that regard.

Another asked who was among her greatest influences, and the Iron Lady responded with "Ronald Reagan."