President Ronald Wilson Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin on June 12, 1987 and made what is considered by many to be one of the greatest speeches of all time.
The speech to the people of West Berlin contains one of the most memorable lines spoken by Reagan during his presidency. The Berlin Wall, which extended for a hundred miles – surrounding West Berlin – was built by the Communists in August 1961 to keep Germans from escaping Communist-controlled East Germany into Democratic West Berlin.
The twelve-foot high concrete wall included electrified fences and armed guard posts. East Germans desperate for freedom who risked their lives to breach it were shot to death on sight.
The Berlin Wall stood as a stark symbol of the decades-old Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. With what was perhaps the most infamous symbol of totalitarianism in the background, Ronald Reagan demanded – in unambiguous terms that today’s politicians are loathe to embrace: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
The Berlin Wall stood for nearly thirty years. While the official demolition began on June 13, 1990, the wall’s unofficial destruction – and that of communism in East Germany – began barely two years after Ronald Reagan’s immortal command.
The American people – and the world – are in desperate need of another Ronald Reagan these days.