Reagan Speechwriter Shares the Backstory of Iconic 'Tear Down This Wall' Speech

Nov 6, 2019

Former president Ronald Reagan delivered a famous speech at the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin in 1987, commanding then-Soviet leader Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall."
Credit National Archives / YouTube

30 years ago on Thursday, the Berlin Wall – an iconic symbol of the Cold War – began to crumble, symbolizing the end of the Soviet Union and its communist grip on Eastern Europe.  Two years earlier, a young speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan had been sent to Berlin to conduct research and write a foreign policy speech that Reagan would deliver at the Brandenberg Gate separating East and West Berlin. 

The speech would go down in history as Reagan's famous “Tear Down This Wall” speech. The writer who came up with those words, Peter Robinson,  is in Missouri this week to speak at the Westminster College in Fulton, where Winston Churchill made his Iron Curtain speech in 1946.  KSMU’s Jennifer Moore spoke with Robinson by phone to learn how the speech came about.  You can hear an excerpt from the interview below:

According to Westminster College, Robinson will speak at 4:30 PM Thursday, November 7,  in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, on the Westminster College campus in Fulton.

Robinson’s talk is free and open to the public, and it will be preceded by a solemn outdoor wreath-laying ceremony and tolling of the church bells at 4:15 p.m, according to university officials.

America’s National Churchill Museum is located on Westminster’s campus.