Twenty-five years ago today, President Ronald Reagan stood in West Berlin on a temporarily erected platform. The gray buildings of Soviet-dominated East Berlin were visible through the Brandenburg Gate behind the podium.

Standing inches away from the tangible manifestation of the Iron Curtain, Reagan faced the crowd of West Berliners in front of him and the Western world beyond. But his real audience was behind him, behind the curtain: He spoke to the millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe held captive by the wall, and he spoke to the Kremlin, addressing Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev himself.

In his rhetorically masterful speech, Reagan made the economic case for freedom and the security case for Western resolve, but his main argument was a moral one. He stated flatly the problem of U.S.–Soviet relations: “Our differences,” Reagan said, “are about liberty.”

Continue reading on