Today marks the 25th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's historic challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the wall separating the East and West Berlin:
"We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. 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, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! [...]
As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner, 'This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.' Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom."
Twenty months after President Reagan's visit, on November 9, 1989, East Germany finally opened the Berlin Wall, once again uniting the city. By the end of the year, operations to dismantle the wall were under way. In September 1990, Reagan returned to Berlin, not as president, but as an individual supporter of freedom. It was at this time he personally took up a hammer and delivered a few symbolic blows to a remaining block of the Berlin Wall.