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Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate, 25 years ago today

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By Doug Powers  •  June 12, 2012 11:22 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

It was 25 years ago today that President Ronald Reagan went to West Berlin and served as the catalyst for “Extreme Makeover: Eastern Bloc Edition.” Marion Smith at the Heritage Foundation remembers Reagan’s speech at Brandenburg Gate:

It was his spiritual case for freedom (“This wall will fall, for it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom”) that carried Reagan’s appeal to the Soviet Union. Without that moral force, his stringent demand to tear down the wall would have sounded odd and hollow. Indeed, his demands of Gorbachev did sound odd and even downright dangerous to many U.S. foreign policy experts in the State Department and Reagan’s own White House. Several times prior to delivery, experts and staff had attempted to cut out or water down these now immortal lines:

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. 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—Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

At these words, the crowd exploded into cheers. They were not idealizing the persona of Reagan. They longed for freedom. They aspired to the idea and model of liberty that Reagan’s America represented.

The rest is here.

I wasn’t quite 21 years old at the time, and I remember watching clips of the speech on television and realizing history had been made that day:

**Written by Doug Powers

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