Reagan Speechwriter Shares Backstory for Iconic ‘Tear Down That Wall’ Speech


Credit National Archives / YouTube

Former President Ronald Reagan gave a famous speech at the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin in 1987, ordering then Soviet leader Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”.

Thirty years ago, on Thursday, the Berlin Wall – an iconic symbol of the Cold War – began to collapse, symbolizing the end of the Soviet Union and its Communist hold over Eastern Europe. Two years earlier, a young speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan had been sent to Berlin to research and write a foreign policy speech Reagan would deliver at the Brandenberg Gate separating East and West Berlin.

The speech will go down in history as Reagan’s famous “Tear Down That Wall” speech. The writer who found those words, Peter Robinson, is in Missouri this week to speak at Westminster College in Fulton, where Winston Churchill gave his Iron Curtain speech in 1946. Jennifer Moore of KSMU spoke with Robinson over the phone to find out how the speech came about. You can hear an excerpt from the interview below: Listen to an excerpt from the interview with speechwriter Peter Robinson here.

According to Westminster College, Robinson will speak at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 7, at St. Mary the Virgin Church in Aldermanbury on the Westminster College campus in Fulton.

Robinson’s lecture is free and open to the public, and it will be preceded by a solemn outdoor wreath laying ceremony and the sound of church bells at 4:15 p.m., according to university officials.

The National Churchill Museum is located on the Westminster campus.

Copyright 2021 KSMU. To learn more, visit KSMU.

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