Remembering “Tear Down This Wall” speech 25 years later

25 years ago today, the 20th Century’s greatest American President visited Berlin and gave one of the most memorable speeches of my generation.

Ronald Reagan’s own advisers begged him not to deliver the now-cherished words, but he did anyway. He essentially told Soviet Primier Gorbachev to put his rubles where his mouth is and “Tear down this wall,” if he truly sought peace. Today those four words are the most famous of the Reagan presidency.

Oddly, back when he gave the speech, it was not widely covered in the western media. Communists, leftists, and their enablers around the world accused Reagan of war-mongering with his “inflammatory” rhetoric.

But just 29 months later, in November of 1989 Reagan returned to Berlin to assist in physically tearing down of the wall, which became the first domino chip to fall in a long list of countries brutally oppressed by Stalinism in Eastern Europe.

As a child living in those days, I never thought we would see the end of the Cold War or the Soviet Union, much less in the lifetime of an adult like Ronald Reagan.

His speech did little to alter the geopolitics of the day, but it certainly empowered and emboldened millions of oppressed people on the other side of the wall with the knowledge that they were not alone in their struggle and that they had a strong friend and ally in the United States who would back them up.

They were right.