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They were there at the scene - they were the United States Secret Service, the White House staff and Advance Team, the Speechwriters, members of the State Department and others. Read, as they reflect on their personal stories of preparing for, and being at, President Reagan's trip to Berlin.

Peter Robinson

Speechwriter

On June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate rising behind him, to deliver a speech I had drafted. "General Secretary Gorbachev," the president said, "if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate."

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Andrew J. Littlefair

Office of Presidential Advance

I had the pleasure of being the lead Advance in charge of the Berlin. Our team spent over three weeks preparing for the President’s visit. I remember on the pre-advance we went onto the balcony of the Reichstag and peered over the Wall. There was a desire by the President to look into East Berlin; beyond the barbed wire, dogs and the Wall, to dramatize the difference between freedom and repression. We negotiated with the Secret Service and discussed the type of bullet proof glass that would be necessary to ensure the President’s safety.

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Jack Courtemanche

Chief-of-Staff to Mrs. Ronald Reagan

I will never forget this day. We were on advance trip in preparation for President Reagans visit to Berlin. At the time I was the Chief of Staff for Mrs. Reagan. This day we visited the wall and the NATO troops that were guarding the wall. We interviewed a number of the patrol and they told us stories about East Germans trying to get over the wall and being pulled off the wall, etc. We also had opportunity to visit East Berlin and see the condition and contrast from West Berlin. Unbelievable the contrast between the conditions on either side of this wall.

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Ray Shaddick

Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service

It was a cool, overcast day on June 12, 1987, when the President, Mrs. Reagan and entourage arrived at the Reichstag. The party entered the building and went to a balcony that had a superb view of the wall and East Berlin. After a brief discussion with members of the White House staff, we departed the Reichstag and moved a short distance to the Brandenburg Gate where the President then made his speech in front of two sections of bulletproof glass. As far as one could see down the main street, approximately 50,000 people had gathered to witness the historical event.

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Tom Griscom

Assistant to the President, Communications and Planning

Sen.. Baker, the president’s chief of staff, asked me to come down the hall to his office in the West Wing. Entering his office, he was sitting with Secretary of State George Shultz. The conversation quickly moved to removing the lines from the president’s speech that referenced tearing down the Berlin Wall. The State Department had made several attempts during the vetting process to either remove the lines or greatly water them down. The point that was made - the statement would be viewed as an affront by Mr. Gorbachev and set back the work that had been done to normalize relations. I responded that having heard the president deliver the line on several occasions, there was no doubt of the potential impact. But it was none the less daunting as a communication director in his thirties to be responding to the questions of the chief of staff and the secretary of state.

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Richard Allen

National Security Advisor

An Anecdote: Ronald Reagan’s Very First Trip to Germany, 1978 In late 1978, precisely two years before the election, Governor Reagan embarked on his first trip ever to Germany, via London and Paris. Peter Hannaford and I, and our wives, accompanied the Reagans.

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Florence Gantt

Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Having worked for the National Security Advisor, in preparation for the West Berlin trip, I remember working on various briefing books and talking points for President Reagan.

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Kim O'Brien

Trip Coordinator

I had the extreme great fotrune to be the trip coordinator on this trip to Berlin. I remember all the long days and late-night hours of planning that went into our visit to Berlin. The one thing we had diffulcult planning for was the weather. We needed to build the staging in front of the Berlin Wall that would fit the enormity of the event and the participants that day, but also allow for this monumental speech to be given rain or shine. We ended up building a stage with a roof overhead for protection from threatening rains; but yet would allow for removal of the roof with a few hours notice. We all knew the event would be more powerful without the roof overhead, but we woke up the morning of June 12, 1987 to dark clouds and thunderstorms. As Air Force One got closer to arriving to Berlin that late morning, we had to make a final weather call and decide whether or not to remove the roof for President Reagan's famous speech to General Secretary Gorbachev. The advance team made the call to remove the roof of the stage with just minutes to spare, as we had received word that Air Force One was en route to Berlin. The press needed time to reset and plan on relighting the event with no roof.

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