Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

posted at 7:26 pm on June 12, 2012 by J.E. Dyer

Few may have joined in commemorating Ronald Reagan’s “ash heap of history” speech last week, but the infosphere is alive today with the sound of perhaps his most famous appeal, made on this day in 1987.

Peter Robinson had a wonderful piece at the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, in which he cited the opinions of former subjects of the Eastern Bloc that Reagan’s words spoken at the Brandenburg Gate had indeed made a difference.  A retired German, Dieter Elz, offered this perspective:

[T]he division of the continent [into Communist East and free West] had come to seem permanent, inescapable, fixed.

“Everyone was aware of the suffering in the East,” Dieter said, “but no one could see what to do about it. Reagan made us understand that maybe things could be different. Here is a piece of wall. Why not remove it? Reagan changed—how would you say it in English? In German, Bewusstsein. Consciousness? Yes. He changed our consciousness.”

Former Soviet dissident Yuri Yarim-Agaev offered this:

In the 1975 Helsinki Accords, Yuri explained, even the West accepted the division of Europe. “Imagine how hard this made our struggle. We almost had to admit that it was hopeless. Then Reagan says, ‘Break the wall!’ Why break this wall if these borders are valid? To us, it was more than a question of Berlin or even of Germany. It was a question of the legitimacy of the Soviet empire. Reagan challenged the empire. To us, that meant everything. After that speech, everything was in play.”

The wall was erected quickly, starting the night of 13 August 1961 – to keep East Germans from fleeing to the West.  More than 3 million of them already had since the end of World War II, when the Soviet occupation of eastern Germany was established, and later, when a communist government was installed.  The Wall became the quintessential symbol of the Cold War: an enduring emblem of the brutality and failure of state-based Marxism.

Berlin itself was a divided city, with West Berlin a Western enclave inside East Germany, surrounded by concertina wire and armed guard posts.  Throughout the Cold War, it outperformed its Eastern counterpart in every way, and became, like the Wall, a symbol – of holding on against the odds, of hope, courage, and freedom of speech and ideas.  The Wall transfixed the imagination of the globe, but West Berlin represented a quiet, tenacious downpayment on the triumph of the free world.  In retrospect, it was the outpost not of a long, twilight defeat but of a victory that was foreordained, if the free peoples had the courage to press for it.

In speeches like the one to the House of Commons, five years before he spoke in Berlin, Reagan articulated why the victory was foreordained.  He was not lobbing snark at the Soviet Union, or merely uttering false-heroic challenges.  He saw, across the landscape of his moral and political vision, the victory for freedom.  He saw the lights on the Western side, and knew they had to win out over the darkness on the other.  He saw West Berlin, where everyone else saw the Wall.  And when he said “Tear down this wall,” he meant: “Tear down this wall!”

This is what he said in a less well-known portion of the address:

Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall, for it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

He meant every word.  The Wall came down, two years and five months after Reagan’s speech.  Fittingly, it was torn down by the German people.  So effective had been the break-out of the Eastern Bloc that by late 1989, Gorbachev was no longer the one who had to tear the Wall down.

I think Reagan would be the first to say that it was the people of Eastern Europe who seized their future.  He would not take credit for what they did, and he would be right to efface himself.  But the courage and ingenuity of the people do need a champion, and that’s what Reagan was.  His philosophy is vindicated wherever people insist on and demonstrate their ability to outdo the limits set for them by small-minded governments and ideologues.  It is hard to let others be free, but Reagan knew that the rewards are tremendous, and worth giving up the urge to exercise control.

Peter Robinson concludes his piece with this summary of a question he posed to Nancy Reagan:

Had the president ever remarked that it was the people of Berlin, not General Secretary Gorbachev, who had torn down the Berlin Wall? “Oh, yes,” Mrs. Reagan replied. “He always felt that it happened because the people made it happen, and he was happy to have helped them in any way possible.”

That’s something his critics never got about Reagan – something even many of his supporters have missed, perhaps because it’s so simple, and because it seems sentimental to our modern minds, conditioned as they are to materialist and systematic thinking. With Reagan, it was about the people.

Reagan’s speech to the people of Berlin

12 June 1987

Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, and speaking to the people of this city and the world at the city hall. Well since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn to Berlin. And today, I, myself, make my second visit to your city.

We come to Berlin, we American Presidents, because it’s our duty to speak in this place of freedom. But I must confess, we’re drawn here by other things as well; by the feeling of history in this city — more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer, Paul Linke, understood something about American Presidents. You see, like so many Presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: “Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin” [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]

Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, I extend my warmest greetings and the good will of the American people. To those listening in East Berlin, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic South, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same — still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state.

Yet, it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world.

Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German separated from his fellow men.

Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

President Von Weizsäcker has said, “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Well today — today I say: As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.

Yet, I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.

In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air-raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State — as you’ve been told — George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. I was struck by a sign — the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the western sectors of the city. The sign read simply: “The Marshall Plan is helping here to strengthen the free world.” A strong, free world in the West — that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium — virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded.

In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty — that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders — the German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany: busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of parkland. Where a city’s culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there’s abundance — food, clothing, automobiles — the wonderful goods of the Kudamm.¹ From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. Now the Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn’t count on: Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.²]

In the 1950s — In the 1950s Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.”

But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind — too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now — now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty — the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.

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!

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. Because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

As I speak, NATO ministers are meeting in Iceland to review the progress of our proposals for eliminating these weapons. At the talks in Geneva, we have also proposed deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons. And the Western allies have likewise made far-reaching proposals to reduce the danger of conventional war and to place a total ban on chemical weapons.

While we pursue these arms reductions, I pledge to you that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur. And in cooperation with many of our allies, the United States is pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative — research to base deterrence not on the threat of offensive retaliation, but on defenses that truly defend; on systems, in short, that will not target populations, but shield them. By these means we seek to increase the safety of Europe and all the world. But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. When President Kennedy spoke at the City Hall those 24 years ago, freedom was encircled; Berlin was under siege. And today, despite all the pressures upon this city, Berlin stands secure in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.

In the Philippines, in South and Central America, democracy has been given a rebirth. Throughout the Pacific, free markets are working miracle after miracle of economic growth. In the industrialized nations, a technological revolution is taking place, a revolution marked by rapid, dramatic advances in computers and telecommunications.

In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete.

Today, thus, represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start.

Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the United States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement.

And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.

To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe.

With — With our French — With our French and British partners, the United States is prepared to help bring international meetings to Berlin. It would be only fitting for Berlin to serve as the site of United Nations meetings, or world conferences on human rights and arms control, or other issues that call for international cooperation.

There is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I’m certain, will do the same. And it’s my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors.

One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you may have noted that the Republic of Korea — South Korea — has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West.

In these four decades, as I have said, you Berliners have built a great city. You’ve done so in spite of threats — the Soviet attempts to impose the East-mark, the blockade. Today the city thrives in spite of the challenges implicit in the very presence of this wall. What keeps you here? Certainly there’s a great deal to be said for your fortitude, for your defiant courage. But I believe there’s something deeper, something that involves Berlin’s whole look and feel and way of life — not mere sentiment. No one could live long in Berlin without being completely disabused of illusions. Something, instead, that has seen the difficulties of life in Berlin but chose to accept them, that continues to build this good and proud city in contrast to a surrounding totalitarian presence, that refuses to release human energies or aspirations, something that speaks with a powerful voice of affirmation, that says “yes” to this city, yes to the future, yes to freedom. 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 (quote):

“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.

And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I’ve been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they’re doing again.

Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you.

 

A section of the Berlin Wall reposing in eternal peace at the Reagan Library, Simi Valley, CA

 

Speech text from American Rhetoric.   C-SPAN has the full video here.  Just the money quote here

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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Thank you! I was wondering if the anniversary of this significant day and speech would be mentioned.

INC on June 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM

I thought Dear Leader gave the memorable speech there? /sarc

Dingbat63 on June 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Damn, I miss that man….

MaxSplinters on June 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Ron Paul isn’t big on fences either.

Bishop on June 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

I weep for so many reasons.

SouthernGent on June 12, 2012 at 7:33 PM

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I think J.E. Dyer should be a full time Hot Air contributor, not just relegated to the Green Room. She always has something of significance to say, well worth the read.

Grinch on June 12, 2012 at 7:33 PM

MaxSplinters on June 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

2nd that

cmsinaz on June 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Excellent blog post J.E. Dyer!!..Very good post!!..:)

Dire Straits on June 12, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Oh how I miss that man.

Flora Duh on June 12, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Mr.Putin, build us a wall….B.Hussein Kardashian

MaxSplinters on June 12, 2012 at 7:37 PM

The other day I was thinking how ironic it is to be wishung BJ Clinton was still in the White House instead of Jugeared Jac kass.

Then I read a piece like this and realize I just took too many of my daily meds.

platypus on June 12, 2012 at 7:37 PM

The closest our d!ckwad in chief will ever come to this man’s greatness is pretending the dust on the top of his desk came from the Berlin Wall.

waterytart on June 12, 2012 at 7:37 PM

wishung s/b wishing. No snarky comments please.

platypus on June 12, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I remember reading somewhere that his advisors didn’t want him to use that line in the speech and it was supposedly taken out, but Reagan decided on his own to use it while giving the speech. Greatest President in modern times. Certainly my lifetime.

Bitter Clinger on June 12, 2012 at 7:38 PM

I had just gotten out of school for the year and was looking forward to my last summer before my senior year in high school. I remember watching that speech on either CNN or C-Span…and how Reagan’s words sent chills down my spine. All around me I was hearing from the ‘adults’ how my generation was going to be old and gray before the wall crumbled. Hell-we might even be dead before that happened. While I listened to President Reagan speak-I got the sense that he was a heck of a lot more optimistic about the prospect of the Wall giving way-in MY generation-than those around me. His words filled little me-a 16 1/2 year old watching from the Chicago suburbs-with hope that my contemporaries that were then under the Communist boot- would someday be free like I was.
2 1/2 years later,the Wall came down.

annoyinglittletwerp on June 12, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Well said, J.E., very well said indeed.

Reagan was a giant, a true leader.

He is sorely missed today, that is for sure.

turfmann on June 12, 2012 at 7:39 PM

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I think J.E. Dyer should be a full time Hot Air contributor, not just relegated to the Green Room. She always has something of significance to say, well worth the read.

Grinch on June 12, 2012 at 7:33 PM

+1,000,000

Bitter Clinger on June 12, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Nice job J.E. Thanks. Thank You President Reagan. I miss you.

Bmore on June 12, 2012 at 7:40 PM

There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. ~ Ronald Reagan

Flora Duh on June 12, 2012 at 7:44 PM

I think the lesson is stick to American founding principles stand up for freedom let it be known that America embodies and projects those founding principles, the natural laws; the inalienable right of Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as endowed not by man or government, but by their creator to every person on earth.

And good things will happen.

Speakup on June 12, 2012 at 7:50 PM

If you’ve never read Natan Sharansky’s story of the reaction he and his fellow prisoners had to Reagan’s Evil Empire Speech, it is great:

The View from the Gulag

This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell’s Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union.

It was one of the most important, freedom-affirming declarations, and we all instantly knew it. For us, that was the moment that really marked the end for them, and the beginning for us. The lie had been exposed and could never, ever be untold now. This was the end of Lenin’s “Great October Bolshevik Revolution” and the beginning of a new revolution, a freedom revolution–Reagan’s Revolution.

We were all in and out of punishment cells so often–me more than most–that we developed our own tapping language to communicate with each other between the walls. A secret code. We had to develop new communication methods to pass on this great, impossible news. We even used the toilets to tap on.

INC on June 12, 2012 at 7:54 PM

I was in my early 20′s back in the day…

… and remember every bit of it.

Living during the time of President Ronald Reagan was magical…

… a true leader, a great patriot, a good and decent man.

Rest in Peace Mr. President…

Seven Percent Solution on June 12, 2012 at 7:54 PM

There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.

– RR

JeffWeimer on June 12, 2012 at 7:59 PM

The tearing down the wall was the first event that began the tearing down the Liberal wall that I had built around myself. Seeing the news reports of the wall coming down and the USSR collapsing, I was thinking, “He did it. Reagan really did know what he was talking about and doing. He beat the Russians. He wasn’t the doddering fool I’d been lead to believe. His plan worked.”

It was another decade before I fully and completely severed my allegiances to Liberals and the Democrat party. This event is where it all started.

Mallard T. Drake on June 12, 2012 at 7:59 PM

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I think J.E. Dyer should be a full time Hot Air contributor, not just relegated to the Green Room. She always has something of significance to say, well worth the read.

Grinch on June 12, 2012 at 7:33 PM

I agree.

INC on June 12, 2012 at 8:01 PM

At one moment in history we had Ronald Reagan, Howard Baker (Byrd)and Tip O’Neill and 25 years later Barrack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi (Boehner)…….I can’t even print the foul words that come to mind. I miss you dearly Mr. Reagan!!!!

dddave on June 12, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Speaking of Reagan and Gorbachev…

Доверяй, но проверяй,
Trust, but verify!

- President Ronald Reagan, quoting an old Russian maxim

ITguy on June 12, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Thank you! I was wondering if the anniversary of this significant day and speech would be mentioned.

INC on June 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Since lunchtime, in the Green Room. Check it out once in a while. Lots of good stuff there.

As powerful now as it was then.

Every time I go to Fort Sill I make sure to look at the piece of the wall in Snow hall. The last time was with my green wearing stepson.

A nice piece of wall

cozmo on June 12, 2012 at 1:57 PM

cozmo on June 12, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Yes, the lefties writhed in anguish over President Ronald Reagan’s words, they thought he was ‘too provocative’.

slickwillie2001 on June 12, 2012 at 8:10 PM

I remember how electrifying it was, that one sentence, when I heard it on the news at work. Lord, how I miss him.

Eren on June 12, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Damn, I miss that man….

MaxSplinters on June 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

.
I think most of us here “feel you”, man.

I know I do. : (

listens2glenn on June 12, 2012 at 8:20 PM

As I read J.E.’s wonderful post two images came to mind, one of Reagan riding al alamien jumping a fence and Zippy riding a girly bike wearing a helmet.

Weasel Zippers captured it perfectly: http://weaselzippers.us/2012/06/01/a-tale-of-two-presidents-obama-hitting-6-fundraisers-reagan-promoted-democracy-all-on-june-1/

The pictures tells it all, and it isn’t just ‘A Tale of Two Presidents.’ It’s the difference between men and boys, adults and children, a leader vs. a self-absorbed grifter.

Cody1991 on June 12, 2012 at 8:21 PM

cozmo on June 12, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Thanks. I should have looked at the side bar.

INC on June 12, 2012 at 8:22 PM

…now…and then
…night…and day
…JugEars…and RawHide

KOOLAID2 on June 12, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Twenty-five years later and the “ash heap of history” now resides in the Oval Office. Only some of us have learned from history.

Ufdaubet on June 12, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Yes, the lefties writhed in anguish over President Ronald Reagan’s words, they thought he was ‘too provocative’.

slickwillie2001 on June 12, 2012 at 8:10 PM

There were plenty of rightys who writhed in anguish as well.

I remember it well. And told folks “that is how a leader acts”.

cozmo on June 12, 2012 at 8:27 PM

I was in my early 20′s back in the day…

… and remember every bit of it.

Living during the time of President Ronald Reagan was magical…

… a true leader, a great patriot, a good and decent man.

Rest in Peace Mr. President…

Seven Percent Solution on June 12, 2012 at 7:54 PM

I was 30, but Reagan had been a part of my life beginning with the Young Republicans in college, when we worked on his ’76 primary campaign. I feel for the younger generations that will never know what it was like when Reagan was president. You’re right, it was truly magical.

TxAnn56 on June 12, 2012 at 8:34 PM

On March 8, 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the 41st Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Here is the closing of that speech, which the media dubbed Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech:

The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

Whittaker Chambers, the man whose own religious conversion made him a witness to one of the terrible traumas of our time, the Hiss-Chambers case, wrote that,

“The crisis of the Western world exists to the degree in which the West is indifferent to God, the degree to which it collaborates in communism’s attempt to make man stand alone without God.” 

And then he said,

“For Marxism-Leninism is actually the second-oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ 

The Western world can answer this challenge, he wrote,

“but only provided that its faith in God and the freedom He enjoins is as great as communism’s faith in Man.” 

I believe we shall rise to the challenge. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last — last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man. For in the words of Isaiah:

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increased strength… But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary…”

Yes, change your world. One of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, said, “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.” We can do it, doing together what no one church could do by itself.

God bless you and thank you very much.

- President Ronald Reagan
March 8, 1983

ITguy on June 12, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Reagan in Berlin…on of the better memories of a former career. has it really been that long ago?

Millions of people were inspired by those words spoken by President Reagan, followed up with real deeds, and a hell of a lot of effort at the working level to give more than mere hope and make for real change across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Jump forward to this administration.

A few words of encouragement might have made a difference in a few places…perhaps might not have kept Nedā Āghā-Soltān from being murdered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, but maybe, just maybe, it may have given some real hope and encouragement to a lot of people and they may have already taken care of things on their own.

But…all we (and the Iranians, yearning to be free) got “we do not meddle in the internal affairs…yada yada…”

Empty rhetoric from an empty suit President currently in the White House.

With hope, that’ll change come January.

coldwarrior on June 12, 2012 at 8:42 PM

“We will always remember.
We will always be proud.
We will always be prepared,
so that we may always be free.”
…Ronald Reagan

Oh, how I miss this man…

StarLady on June 12, 2012 at 8:43 PM

Full confession:

When I heard the speech in 1987; I was cynical. “Nice speech, Mr. President, also a load of BS.”

I was wrong, very wrong.

My apologies, Mr. President. Thank you for all you did.

patch on June 12, 2012 at 8:44 PM

My own definition of a leader is someone who knows about a cool place and will take you there. A “cool place” can be an actual place, process, philosophy, etc. It is showing other something that is worth sharing with others because it will make their lives better.

Reagan’s cool place was individual freedom and economic liberty. He was the willing person to take people to that place. His Berlin speech was all about letting the people of Berlin and Eastern Europe know that he knew how to get to that better, cool place. He was willing to lead them there.

Quite a contrast to the current WH occupant whose style is to lead from behind. He’ll check which way is the popular direction and then try to jump to the lead as if he was there all the time. Obama is about making sure he is looking good, rather than trying to improve others lives.

Mallard T. Drake on June 12, 2012 at 9:01 PM

I was young, but blessed enough to understand.

But this article is pretty incredible. I. Knew most in bits and pieces but here it all is at once.

Thank you JE DYER.

Lest we forget…

wolly4321 on June 12, 2012 at 9:08 PM

The pictures tells it all, and it isn’t just ‘A Tale of Two Presidents.’ It’s the difference between men and boys, adults and children, a leader vs. a self-absorbed grifter.

Cody1991 on June 12, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Indeed it does sir…Men and Boys(?)

MaxSplinters on June 12, 2012 at 9:11 PM

So glad you recognized this significant anniversary. Makes you realize the stark differences over the years, and at present. What a man he was. What a man.

hoosiermama on June 12, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Didn’t Reagan offend a lot of “moderates” with that speech?

Bad form, dude. The Gipper would never get anywhere in today’s moderate Romney/Bush GOP.

sartana on June 12, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Reagan was a true leader. He would have dismembered Barky for his America-hate and assault on individualism.

The fact that Barky held the largest POLITICAL rally of the 2008 campaign in Berlin, for Germans (which is as illegal and un-Constitutional as it gets, along with being the most repulsive political act in American history) to try and steal some of Reagan’s spirit (in much the same way mohammed plagiarized and totally perverted parts of the Old and New Testaments for his idiotic koran) was a clear slap in the face to America and history.

Ronald Reagan will only grow in history as time moves on and the monumental nature of his acts and policies come into sharper relief as succeeding events fade by the wayside in comparison.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 12, 2012 at 9:52 PM

What a speech, what a grandness of vision!

It sure makes Obama’s vision look small and joyless, doesn’t it?

PattyJ on June 12, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Of interest on this subject.

I highly recommend this site. A very good slice-of-life of what it was like to grow up on ‘the other side’.

MelonCollie on June 12, 2012 at 11:15 PM

Regan would cry if he saw this election.

Barack Obama – Muslim Marxist for life son of two Marxist one not even an American Citizen.

Mitt Romney – Father George Romney met and loved what Saul Alinsky had to say. George visited South Vietnam (65 and 67) and said he was “brainwashed” there after meeting the North Vietnamese Mitt translated for dad who then went on to Moscow and perhaps North Vietnam. He ran for President and said we should leave South Vietnam to the Communist North. His charge of “brainwashing” by the the United States in South Vietnam gave great comfort to North Vietnam and Communist all over the Globe. But this destroyed any chance George had in 1968. Mitt has always praised his father.

Had a difficult time finding this information much has been erased. But this is what destroyed George Romneys run in 1968. He was another “Hanoi Jane”. Georges plan of leaving did eventually happen and led to Pol Pot and millions of people losing their lives. But people like George Romney turned Americans against the war which is why we eventually left.

If I were a far left Democrat I would probably like Mitt. But this turns my stomach. George Romneys face was on Mitts buss.

Steveangell on June 12, 2012 at 11:29 PM

In 25 years, we’ve gone from telling Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!” to telling Putin “After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play some Wang Chung and Richard Marx cassettes and reminisce about the good old days.

Bruce MacMahon on June 12, 2012 at 11:45 PM

One time in history a Giant walked the planet and changed history.

Thank you President Reagan. You were the best.

itsspideyman on June 12, 2012 at 11:47 PM

I remember watching this speech on TV. My wife and I were living in a small efficiency apartment as I finished college. Later, I remember watching in stunned silence as the wall came down. Here was a real leader, effecting real change, spreading freedom. I admit that tears ran down my face. Thank you President Reagan…

dominigan on June 13, 2012 at 12:58 AM

Steveangell on June 12, 2012 at 11:29 PM

But he would have LOVED the TEA Party!

dominigan on June 13, 2012 at 12:59 AM

Nice piece, thank you for posting it.

God bless Ronald Reagan.

Long live freedom, long live the Republic.

CPT. Charles on June 13, 2012 at 1:08 AM

In 25 years, we’ve gone from telling Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!” to telling Putin “After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Bruce MacMahon on June 12, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Yep. Surreal.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 13, 2012 at 1:15 AM

The wall was erected quickly, starting the night of 13 August 1961 – to keep East Germans from fleeing to the West.

Hmmm.

Barack Obama was born on 4 August 1961, and just nine days later the Commies start putting up the Berlin Wall.

Coincidence? There are no coincidences….

Hayabusa on June 13, 2012 at 2:39 AM

My favorite part of this speech is listening to the crowd go wild after “open this gate”. Because you just know that everyone’s thinking that that’s going to be the highlight of the speech, which people will remember for years to come. That from this day forward, it’s going to be known as Reagan’s “open this gate” speech. Because really, what could anyone possibly say to top that? How could anyone ever come up with a more powerful statement against Soviet tyranny?

And then the next line comes.

RINO in Name Only on June 13, 2012 at 3:51 AM