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21st Anniversary of "Tear Down This Wall"

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

21ST ANNIVERSARY OF ``TEAR DOWN THIS WALL'' -- (Senate - June 12, 2008)

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, today is the anniversary of an important event in recent world history that demonstrates the impact that words--well-chosen words--can have.

June 12, 1987, marks the day that President Ronald Reagan issued a challenge to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to make unmistakably clear his commitment to lessening Cold War tensions and increasing freedom in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe.

Speaking before the Brandenburg Gate in what was then West Berlin, President Reagan stood only 100 yards away from the Berlin Wall, which had divided the free people of West Berlin from the captive Germans in Soviet-controlled East Berlin for decades. An estimated 20,000 people gathered to hear him, including West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

``There is one sign the Soviets could make that would be unmistakable, that would advance the cause of freedom and peace,'' President Reagan said.

Addressing the Soviet Premier directly, he then continued:

If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberation: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Two years later, Germans East and West did raze that wall, presaging German reunification and the fall of the Soviet Union. A piece of the Berlin Wall is preserved today in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA.

At the time, the Soviet state-run press agency called this historic speech ``openly provocative'' and ``war-mongering.'' But Chancellor Kohl, who was there, knew the truth. ``Ronald Reagan was a man who achieved great things for his country,'' Chancellor Kohl said in 2004. ``He was a stroke of luck for the world, especially for Europe.''

There we have an example of the power to make walls crumble, by the sound of freedom--all because of the right words, well chosen and linked to the right policy.

We cannot say what national security crisis will confront us in the future, but we can say that confront us they will, no question about it. When that happens, the world must know that America will fight on the side of justice and freedom.

One great leader made that clear 21 years ago today when he said four simple words: ``Tear down this wall.''

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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