Shortly before we walked to the West Wing, Peter told me what he wanted in the draft: “Tear down the wall.” I pushed back in my chair from my desk and let loose “fantastic, wonderful, great, perfect” and other inadequate exclamations. The Oval Office meeting agenda went quickly, with little chance to pop the question. But the discussion ceased for a moment toward the end, and I crowded in: “Mr. President, it’s still very early but we were just wondering if you had any thoughts at all yet on the Berlin speech?”

Pausing for only a moment, Reagan slipped into his imitation of impressionist Rich Little doing his imitation of Ronald Reagan—he made the well-known nod of the head, said the equally familiar “well,” and then added in his soft but resonant intonation while lifting his hand and letting it fall: “Tear down the wall.”

I had refused to talk to Peter until I was back in my office, such was my excitement. Slamming the door I shouted: “Can you believe it? He said just what you were thinking. He said it himself.”