Today is the birthday of the greatest American president in the last 150 years: Ronald Reagan.
As we remember this giant of a man, this great freedom fighter, this tireless apostle of the American way, the video below is of one of his greatest moments.
Reagan was at Brandenberg Gate in West Berlin, a symbol of man’s propensity to oppress his fellow man. As World War II came to an end with the Allies defeating the Nazi war machine from the west and the Soviet Union defeating them from the east, we met in the middle of Germany, in the middle of Berlin. As the Allies restored freedom to the western part of Germany after the war, the Soviets only increased their stranglehold on the east. The “workers paradise” in the east would not allow people to go across to the free west (why, someone would have to be insane to want to leave the Marxist workers paradise, right?). Eventually, the Soviets built a wall across Berlin to keep their people in.
Reagan stood before one of the few points of tightly-controlled entry and exit to the Workers Paradise, and he called on the Soviet Premier Gorbachev to tear down that wall.
I was stationed in England when Reagan made this speech, there as a part of the defense buildup which eventually drove the Soviets to the arms negotiation table…and to economic collapse. When Reagan made this speech, a new Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) base was coming online where I was at in England, joining several other GLCM bases in England, the Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere–all pointed at the Soviet-bloc nations.
The Worker’s Paradise didn’t think we had the guts to counter their aggression…and based on the behavior of most American presidents (especially the last one: Jimmy Carter), their belief was justified. But Ronald Reagan was no ordinary man, and he was no ordinary president. His buildup frightened the Soviets to the negotiation table, and his determination for verification made sure that this class of intermediate nuclear missiles was done away with; I was tasked with guarding some of the Soviet inspection teams which came to verify our disarmament.
A couple of years later, that wall would indeed come down…and the evil Soviet empire with it. Before I left England, I would celebrate the coming of the New Year 1990–and the coming of much freedom on the continent–with my British friends who were grateful that American had been there to stand for freedom.
Though we no longer live under the threat of seeing our world annihilated in one huge nuclear exchange anymore, in many ways our world is more dangerous today than it was then. Terrorism remains a constant threat worldwide, North Korea is close to developing nuclear weapons, and so is Iran–the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world.
America–and the world–needs someone of Reagan’s character and commitment to stand against the advances of evil. Unfortunately there is no one on stage to do that, and it is doubtful that there is anyone even waiting in the wings.
But one average person could become that person, were they to learn from Reagan’s example and set their mind to the task. Ronald Reagan was just an ordinary man–but a man of extraordinary conviction. And the good news is that any ordinary person can rise to that standard…if they only will.
Thank you, President Reagan, for standing for freedom!