Monday, November 09, 2009

"A Word Fitly Spoken . . ."

11-09-09 -- Scott Johnson at Powerline has a great post today -- "Tear Down This Wall" -- giving readers a summary version of the actual back story on how President Ronald Reagan came to include that central line in his famous speech, the one made in view of the Berlin Wall, by the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987.

It was a stunning speech, one that foreshadowed the actual tearing down of the Berlin Wall by the German residents themselves in November of 1989, just 20 years ago today.

The fascinating post extensively quoted Peter Robinson, author of the memoir, "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life." Peter was a speechwriter for the former President, and penned the draft of the speech. He relates how he came to include that line, after attending a dinner party in Berlin.

Peter also relates how later, during an official meeting to discuss what Reagan wanted to say to the people throughout Germany, where the speech was to be broadcast, Reagan specificallysingled out that one line in Peter's draft for definite inclusion in the speech.

Peter asked him:
"Mr. President," I said, "I learned on the advance trip that this speech will be heard not only in West Berlin but throughout East Germany. Is there anything you'd like to say to people on the other side of the Berlin Wall?"

The President cocked his head and thought. "Well," he replied, "there's that passage about tearing down the wall. That wall has to come down. That's what I'd like to say to them."
Finally, Peter's story also relates the strong institutional opposition to the draft of the speech, coming from both the State Department and the National Security Agency.

Scott then sums up Peter's tale of the President's resolve in retaining that now famous line, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

He does so through a Biblical quotation taken from Proverbs 25:11 . . . "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

Nice touch. In the case of the speech, words that urged a mountain to move . . . and, it did.

Just twenty years ago today. Here is that portion of the speech:

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