Ten days before my tenth birthday on June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan made one of his most famous speeches in front of Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall. This speech marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.
As a girl from a German family, I knew what the gate and the wall stood for. They were symbols of hate and oppression. However, never having lived under such conditions, and being so young, I did not fully comprehend how bad things were. I did not understand what was going on between East Germany and West Germany.
I remember watching President Reagan’s speech in Berlin and being frightened by how cold and mean the Brandenburg Gate looked behind him. The Berlin Wall frightened me, too. I did not pay much attention to much of what he said in that speech, but like most people one line stuck out to me.
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!
Two years later, the gate opened and The Berlin Wall came crashing down. Berliners from the East and West came together, no longer separated by an ugly barrier.
I was very happy to see an eyesore like the Berlin Wall destroyed. And watching the German people, both from the East and West, digging in and doing their part to make this terrible blight on history disappear made me very proud.
In early 1990, democratic elections were held, and then the Treaty of Unification was signed in August that year. Finally, unification of Germany became official on October 3, 1990.
22 years later, Germans celebrate this day—the country’s only national holiday—with speeches, parties, cultural events, and much more. Germans treat it a bit like Americans treat the Fourth of July. It’s an independence day of sorts.
Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall came down and East Germany and West Germany were reunified?
Even if you aren’t German, or in Germany, you should still recognize this as a day where good triumphed over evil.
Happy German Unity Day!
- Berlin unveils plaque to Reagan’s ‘Wall’ speech (kansascity.com)
- Let’s Please Stop Crediting Ronald Reagan for the Fall of the Berlin Wall (theatlantic.com)
- Is Foreign Policy Experience Necessary to be President? (conservativeread.com)