Twenty-five years ago today, Ronald Reagan delivered this challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall!”
It was the challenge issued by United States President Ronald Reagan to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall, in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987.
The Great Ronald Reagan shook the Soviet regime 25 years ago today.
Here are a few lines from that famous speech.
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, tear down this wall!
I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent– and I pledge to you my country’s efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides.
Beginning 10 years ago, the Soviets challenged the Western alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles, capable of striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to a counter-deployment unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution; namely, the elimination of such weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As the alliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counter-deployment, there were difficult days–days of protests like those during my 1982 visit to this city–and the Soviets later walked away from the table.
But through it all, the alliance held firm. And I invite those who protested then– I invite those who protest today–to mark this fact: Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table. (cheers)
Two years later, in November 1989, East Germans issued a decree for the wall to be opened, allowing people to travel freely into West Berlin.
Update (by Andrea Ryan): A special credit should be given to Peter Robinson, President Reagan’s speechwriter who wrote this speech. He is currently Editor-In-Chief for Ricochet. You can read his three short posts here describing the courage and conviction Reagan had to keep these words under strong objection by the National Security Council and the State Department…wanting those words removed.