“Tear Down This Wall”
Ronald Reagan had the courage of his convictions, and his moral strength helped bring the Berlin Wall down. Uploaded by yaf.org.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the speech President Ronald Reagan made at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, calling for the removal of the Berlin Wall. “Tear down this wall” has been said to be the four most important words spoken during Reagan’s term of office, and demonstrated his commitment to the principles of freedom from oppression for all.
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There are conflicting stories about how the line came to be. One says that Reagan came up with it himself. The other, and I think more likely version, is that speechwriter Peter Robinson included the phrase in a draft of the speech that met with disfavor among Reagan’s aides. “We might make the Soviet Union mad,” chief of staff Howard Baker probably said. “We don’t dare offend Gorbachev,” weak-kneed Deputy National Security Advisor Colin Powell might have replied. “Let’s just talk, I’m sure they respect our words,” Hillary Clinton might have said, had she been around then.
But Reagan stood by his convictions, and the moral force of his words accomplished what he demanded. A liberated Eastern Europe owes much to the 40th President of the United States. Here’s the relevant excerpt from his speech:
We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
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