On this day in 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivers his now-famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany.
It was in that speech, of course, that the President gave the powerful and prophetic command:
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
That legacy defining line came about halfway through Reagan’s speech. Interestingly, his now iconic phrase did not attract much attention at the time.
Still, the enduring purpose of Reagan’s position shines most brightly as he approaches the conclusion of his remarks:
“In a word, I would submit that what keeps you in Berlin is love–love both profound and abiding.
Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere–that sphere that towers over all Berlin–the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.
As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner: “This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.” Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.”