Remembering Reagan’s ‘Tear Down This Wall’ Speech 25 Years Later
On June 12, 1987, in a dramatic speech set against the backdrop of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, President Ronald Reagan delivered a challenge to Soviet leader Mikahil Gorbachev: “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, tear down this wall.”
The speech, delivered about 100 yards from the Berlin Wall, marked Reagan’s most prominent call for the reunification of East and West Berlin, and was considered a bold challenge to Gorbachev to prove he was serious about reforming Soviet governmental policies. Ultimately, it also signaled a hallmark moment in Reagan’s presidency.
“The audience was exhilarated,” says CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, who covered the speech for CBS at the time. “And so were most of us who covered the event.”
The speech is remembered largely for Reagan’s explicit call to “tear down this wall,” but the line, now recognized as its most powerful, almost didn’t make it in to the script