As he stood by the Berlin Wall, that ugly reminder that a once free and prosperous city was now divided and conquered, President Reagan sought to give hope to those suffering under Communist oppression.
Several of Reagan's trusted advisors told him the words were inflammatory and provocative, and they counseled him to change his intended remarks. Yet Reagan persisted. He gave his speech as it was written because it was, “the right thing to do.”
Against the historic backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan issued a challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail 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!"
President Reagan was criticized at the time but, to the astonishment of most experts, less than three years later the wall did come down.
Today, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's a good time to tell our children the story of this speech and to teach them that it often takes courage to stand alone. It's often hard to do the right thing. But nothing is more important.
(Note: Below the videos are links to helpful resources.)
Peter Robinson tells the inspiring story of President Reagan's Tear Down This Wall speech.
Here are five minutes from President Reagan's historic Berlin Wall speech.
Learn More about President Reagan, His Speech, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
- Remembering President Reagan President Ronald Reagan's faith in God, his belief in the goodness of the American people, and his confidence in the future changed the course of history. This page has dozens of links to wonderful resources that tell inspiring stories and valuable lessons from the life of one of America's greatest leaders.
- Tear Down This Wall: How Top Advisers Opposed Reagan's Challenge to Gorbachev--But Lost Speech writer, and special assistant to President Reagan, Peter Robinson tells the story of his challenging and inspiring experience writing President Reagan's speech that led to liberty and unity for Germans and millions more in Central and Eastern Europe -- and inspired hope for liberty in the hearts of many millions more around the world.
- The Culmination of Reagan's Foreign Policy with entire Tear Down this Wall speech (26:43) Marion Smith tells how President Reagan focused America's resources on defeating communism and reestablishing America's proper role in the world.
- 25 Years After Fall of Berlin Wall, New Threats to Our Freedom Senator Ted Cruz invites us to "embrace the opportunities [our] freedoms provide so America continues to set a shining example of what a truly free people can achieve," and to renew our resolve and vigilance "against all those who threaten our liberty."