The U.S. Embassy in Berlin plans to unveil a seven-foot tall statue of former President Ronald Reagan on Friday.
The embassy commissioned the statue after years of hoping Berlin officials would erect one themselves, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
It was Reagan on June 12, 1987, pointing to the symbol of communist oppression known as the Berlin Wall, who demanded that his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev remove the edifice. “Mr. Gorbachev,” he said, “tear down this wall.”
It was a historic occasion that incited a massive ovation from the crowd, a seminal moment in his political career. (RELATED: Celebrating Ronald Reagan On What Would Have Been His 108th Birthday)
It would take another two years for the wall to ultimately come down.
Berlin has reportedly ignored all pleas to erect a statue of the late president and suggested it was redundant because the title of honorary citizen of Berlin had been bestowed on Reagan.
The Journal notes that part of the resistance to celebrating Reagan and his legacy might rest with the remnants of Germany’s far left, who opposed Reagan’s decision in the 1980s to replace obsolete nuclear missiles in Germany with newer versions. (RELATED: Germany Stands By Merkel’s Stunning Remarks On Relations With US, UK)
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennell apparently didn’t want to wait for the Germans to move on the proposal any longer, so he suggested the embassy act alone — and the Trump administration agreed.
The embassy tweeted out the news of the official unveiling.
Coming November 8 pic.twitter.com/XUbGYBS1Wu
— US-Botschaft Berlin (@usbotschaft) November 5, 2019
After the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided into a democratic West and a communist East. Berlin was split down the middle too and, due to so many East Germans fleeing to the West, a wall was built in 1961 to prevent them from leaving.
Then-President John Kennedy also visited the wall and declared “Ich bin ein Berliner” (“I too am a Berliner”) on June 26, 1963.
Reagan’s speech, in front of the historic Brandenburg Gate, did not take place far from the site of the U.S. Embassy.
Although Germany relied on the U.S. for protection against Soviet aggression throughout the Cold War, the two countries have not enjoyed sterling relations of late. President Donald Trump has been critical of Germany spending less than two percent of its GDP on defense and for its economic friendship with Russia. Merkel has suggested the U.S. should not be withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.