Celebrating the Fall of the Wall

It was an ugly monstrosity separating a world of oppression from a world of liberty. Erected in 1961 to stop the flood of people leaving communist East Germany, the Berlin Wall sought to keep the people imprisoned within the communist system.

The Wall became a symbol of communist tyranny—as long as it stood, it reminded the free world that we weren’t dealing with simply another point of view; we were dealing with a totalitarian entity that was a direct threat to faith in God and personal liberty. No one thought it would ever come down.

Well, actually, there was one man who thought it would.

Standing before the Brandenburg Gate of the Wall, Ronald Reagan, in 1987, challenged the Soviet Union with the words: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Those words electrified the world. His own State Department tried to get him to cut those words from his speech. They were afraid of inflaming the relationship with the first atheist country on earth. He refused to cut them. He considered them too important.

Two years later, on November 9, 1989, the Wall came tumbling down. Its fall symbolized the fall of the vast Soviet Empire, brought to its knees by its own bankruptcy, not only the economic type, but also the bankruptcy of spirituality.

The world watched in amazement. Who could have predicted such a thing? Well, as I’ve already noted, one man did.

Some people say that Ronald Reagan has been given too much credit for the fall of the Wall and the Soviet Empire as a whole. The evidence says otherwise, and if you ever have the opportunity to go to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, you can witness what the Berliners think about Reagan’s role. Outside the Library is a huge chunk of that Wall, sent there to acknowledge the vital part played by this United States president.

Of course, some will never be convinced.

Today there will be great celebrations again at the site of the old Wall as throngs will mark the 20th anniversary of its fall. People from all over the world will be present. President Obama will not. What does that say about his appreciation of this event? What does it say about his priorities?