It was 23 years ago this week that President Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate in the divided city of Berlin and urged Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to "tear down this wall!"
At the time, several members of the President’s staff opposed the remark. Chief of Staff Howard Baker said it sounded "extreme." National Security Advisor Colin Powell agreed, declaring it was "unpresidential." Reagan ended the debate by saying, "I think we’ll leave it in."
About 45,000 people attending the speech heard the American leader declare: "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!"
While many commentators in the East and the West derided our "cowboy" President for his anti-communist rhetoric, just 29 months later the wall began to fall. And the rest, as they say, is history.