“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” The words are famous and they made history. But, those words were almost never spoken. In his wonderful history book, Rick Beyer shares how that line stayed in the speech and impacted the world.
So, how did it come about that President Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 said those historic words at the Berlin wall?
It all started at a dinner party. Ingeborg Elz from Berlin hosted a dinner party for White House speechwriter Peter Robinson. At the time, Robinson was researching the speech that he was assigned to write for President Reagan’s address in Berlin.
In the midst of the conversation that evening, Ingeborg mentioned to Robinson that if Gorbachev really wanted to show that he cared about perestroika than he should just get rid of the wall separating East Berlin from West Berlin.
Perestroika is a term that literally means “restructuring” but usually refers to political reform that was taking place in the Soviet Union during the 1980’s.
Ingeborg’s words gave Robinson some ideas. But all the words that he put together as he wrote President Reagan’s speech didn’t seem to fit. He had writer’s block. After trying different word combinations, it finally came to him. He decided to be straightforward, blunt, and to the point. The result was the immortal words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
Robinson had felt that he had hit the right tone for the speech. Unfortunately, he was about the only one in the West Wing who felt that way. Secretary of State George Schultz hated the line and National Security Advisor, General Colin Powell felt that the line had too much of an edge to it. Powell’s fear was that it could provoke the Soviets into making a rash decision. But, there was one other person in the West Wing who loved the line. That person was Ronald Reagan.
President Reagan’s inner circle began to work on him to change his mind. They told the President that it could cause tensions and hurt relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. But, President Reagan understood that change usually won’t happen without some form of tension. Tension doesn’t have to be a negative thing. He also understood that sometimes you have to take a hard stand.
The debate about that sentence went on for days. Finally, the president had an exchange with Deputy White House Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein.
The President said, “I’m the President, aren’t I?”
“Yes sir, Mr. President,” said Duberstein.” We’re clear about that.”
“So I get to decide whether the line about turning down the wall stays in?” said Reagan in more of a statement than a question.
“That’s right, sir. It’s your decision.”
“Then it stays in,” said Reagan.
So, the President stood firm for his beliefs and convictions. What does history show? That he was right. On November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall came down. And finally once again Germany began to unite West and East into peaceful unity. Thanks for reading today.
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“Yankee doodle came to town riding on a pony, stuck a feather in his hat, and called him macaroni.”
We all know the words but do we know the heritage? How a song that was designed to ridicule became a victory cry of triumph.
The famous tune Yankee Doodle was written by Dr. Richard Schuckburgh. He was a British surgeon during the time of the French and Indian war.
Dr. Shuckburgh, as well as many British, loved to make fun of the American cousins. During the French and Indian War, the rustic Americans fought on the side of the British. The Americans would march alongside the sharp dressed, well trained British Redcoats. The good doctor took this contrast and made it a joke.
British soldiers had great fun making up their own versus for this little song. But things changed on the way to Lexington. On April 19, 1775, the British troops were singing Yankee Doodle as they were marching from Boston towards Lexington and Concord.
All of a sudden, the now tone deaf British found themselves in a battle against the rebels. The colonials hid behind trees and under rocks and pummeled the Redcoats as they marched by. The American War for Independence had begun.
As the Redcoats retreated hastily from the battlefield, they could hear that old familiar tune again … but, this time it was sung by the Americans. And, on that day, the Americans captured the song as their own and it became a patriotic classic to this day. The Americans began to refer to the song as the Lexington March.
During the war, the Americans found great joy in playing this song as the British surrendered at key battles such as Saratoga and the war ending Yorktown. At the surrender at Saratoga,Tom Anbury, a British Army officer said, “It was not a little mortifying to hear them play this tune, when their army marched down to our surrender.”
Not bad for a bunch of rebels. This is Mark Bowser. Thanks for reading.
*Mark Bowser is the author of several books including “Some Gave It All” with Danny Lane (endorsed by Chuck Norris), “Sales Success” with Zig Ziglar, and “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” As a Professional Speaker, he has presented prestigious seminars at Southwest Airlines, Ford Motor Company, United States Marine Corp., Princeton University, Purdue University, Kings Daughters Medical Center, USDA, FedEx Logistics, and many more. Mark can be reached at http://www.MarkBowser.com or http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/markbowser.
In her wonderful volumes on American history, Mara Pratt shared a story about George Washington that we should all take to heart.
One day during the American Revolution, General George Washington rode upon a number of soldiers who were working to raise a beam up to the top of a military structure. The men somehow didn’t recognize Washington.
All the men were working except one. That one man continued to bark out orders. He yelled at the other men, “Now you have it! Already! Pull!”
Washington guided his horse a little closer to the order barking soldier. He quietly asked the soldier why he wasn’t helping the others. The young man looked up at Washington and angrily said, “Sir, don’t you know that I am the corporal?
Washington said, “I did not realize it. Beg pardon, Mr. Corporal.”
Washington then got off his horse, walked over to the soldiers and began helping them move the heavy beam. The General continued until the beam was put in place on top of the structure. Then, with sweat pouring down his face, he turned to the corporal and said, “If ever you need assistance like this again, call upon Washington, your commander- in-chief, and I will come.”
What is it that makes a great leader? Simply, a servant’s heart.
In the waning days of the Roman empire’s rule, a young 16 year old boy was kidnapped and taken to a faraway land where he was tortured with hard labor for many years.
After five years, he fortunately was able to escape. He walked 200 miles to the shore where he was able to find passage on a ship. Finally, the boy arrived back home.
As you can imagine, his family was overjoyed and shocked to see their beloved son back home again.
Looking forward to the first peaceful night’s sleep in his own bed, The boy instead found a night of turmoil and unrest. His dreams were disturbing. Some might even call them visions.
The visions continued night after night. In his nightly visits, the boy was told to go back to the land of his tormentors and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. Finally, with great resolve, the boy left home on his quest and returned to the land of his tormentors — Ireland.
Would he have to face the Celtic tribesman who had kidnapped him those many years ago? Would he be kidnapped again? Would he ever seen his homeland again? The boy didn’t know. All he knew was that he was a servant of the Most High God and on a mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Was he successful in his mission? Yes. Almost the entire population of Ireland converted to Christianity. And who was the boy to become? None other than Saint Patrick, the honored saint of the island of Ireland. Thanks for reading today.
Thomas Edison was one of the most prolific and influential inventors of all time. He changed all of our lives with inventions such as the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, the movie camera and viewer, and the alkaline storage battery. Can you imagine what life would be like if we didn’t have these daily luxuries?
But, what does a genius like this do when tragedy strikes? Well, let’s find out. In December of 1914, a fire broke out at the Edison laboratories. Over $2 million in damages was done. The first tragedy was that there was only $238,000 of insurance on the labs. Why so little? Because the buildings were made of concrete and it was believed that the concrete made them fireproof. People also thought the Titanic was unsinkable. Now we know better.
But the biggest tragedy went beyond financial. All the projects and all the new inventions that he was working on went up in flames that night. All his notes, all is tinkering, all the projects – gone!
When Edison’s 24-year-old son Charles heard of the fire, panic struck his heart. He looked frantically for his father hoping that he was not in the laboratories when they went up in flames. He finally found his father standing quietly, calmly, and thoughtfully watching the flames engulf his dreams.
Edison looked at his son and asked if he knew where his mother was. He then said “… Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.”
The next morning, the 67-year-old Edison looked at the remains of his laboratories and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”
So, how does a champion deal with tragedy? They look forward. They look for the opportunities. They look for the good. And, they thank God for fresh starts.
*Mark Bowser is Professional Business Speaker and Author of several books including “Nehemiah on Leadership,” “Sales Success” with Zig Ziglar and Scott McKain, “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” and “Some Gave It All” with Danny Lane (endorsed by Chuck Norris)
Mark Bowser is the host of the popular podcast “Let Me Tell You a Story with Mark Bowser.” Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, and other major podcast platforms.
Is it possible for a person to be bulletproof? Protected beyond all measure of human understanding? America’s foremost historian, David Barton, shared a story that used to be found in almost every American history text book for one hundred and fifty years. Today, most students and Americans have never heard this story.
The story takes place twenty years before the American War for Independence. George Washington was a young man of twenty-three years old when he was called to duty in the French and Indian War. The war was between the United Kingdom and France. Both sides had claimed ownership of the land around the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. A peaceful agreement couldn’t be made so war broke out between the two European powers.
The Americans joined the British side and most of the Native Americans joined with the French. At the time, George Washington was Colonel of the Virginia Militia. George Washington and one hundred of his militia joined with General Braddock to kick the French out of Fort Duquane which is now the city of Pittsburgh.
On July 9, 1755, they walked right into an ambush. The British were still about seven miles from the fort marching in the midwestern wilderness when all of sudden they began taking on fire from both sides of their path. The French and Indians shot at them from all angles: from behind trees, underneath logs, sheltered from rocks, and even from above in the top of trees.
The British were some of the world’s best and most experienced soldiers. Unfortunately, it was at European style of warfare. In that style, both armies would line up in straight lines on opposite sides of a field and bravely fire at each other.
So, in the middle of a wilderness, the British did what they had been trained to do. They lined up shoulder to shoulder neatly as if they were marching in a parade. They were easy pickings for the enemy. The Indians and French protected by their hiding places took out the British with ease. In only two hours, over 700 of the 1,300 British and Virginia Militia troops were slaughtered. Only thirty of the French and Indians had been shot.
George Washington was the only officer who was not shot off of his horse. This twenty three year old militia leader found himself in command of what was left of the British army. What should he do? Continue to fight? Washington knew what he had to do. He must save what was left of his men. Washington gathered up the remaining troops and retreated back to Fort Cumberland.
During the battle, several horses had been shot from underneath Washington. Later, Washington found four bullet holes in his jacket, but he had not been touched by one bullet. He told his family in a letter that,“By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation.” Washington knew he was protected by Almighty God. There was not a doubt in his mind about that.
Fifteen years later in 1770, George Washington and a close friend returned to those same woods where the battle had been fought. An Indian Chief heard that Washington was there and traveled far to meet with him. The Native American Chief told Washington that he had been a leader in that great battle and that he had instructed his braves to single out all the officers, including Washington. The Chief himself had shot at Washington seventeen times without success. Believing that Washington was under the protection of the Great Spirit, the Chief told his braves to quit firing on Washington.
On that day in 1770, the Chief told Washington, “I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle.I have come to pay homage to the man whose is the particular favorite of Heaven and who can never die in battle.”
There was a time when most American children were taught that story in school about our first President. Today, most Americans have never heard that story. A recent poll stated that only 40% of Americans have a basic knowledge of American history.That is very sad … and dangerous. Philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
That lesson goes both directions. Today, there are ignorant cries to tear down statues in an attempt to erase part of our history. But, if we don’t remember the mistakes of the past then we are condemned to repeat them.
There is evil in parts of history. We must never repeat the sins of the past. So, we must understand history. We must understand how the Hitler of the 1930’s became the Hitler of the 1940’s and killed over eleven million Jewish people. We must understand the history of slavery and how one man, Abraham Lincoln, led the fight to end that scourge in the United States in 1863.
History is not without evil … but we must remember it. History is also filled with stories of good and we must remember them too. We must walk on the shores of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and remember the Wright Brothers and man’s leap into a bigger world. We must remember that first shaky flight and how it shined a light onto the path that led us to Tranquility Base on July 20, 1969 where Neil Armstrong took “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” So, is it possible to be bulletproof and protected beyond all measure of human understanding? Oh yeah!
ANNOUNCING! A New Podcast Gaining Attention — Let Me Tell You A Story with Mark Bowser
Stories are everywhere! We all love them! We love them in books, at the movies, and in our favorite podcasts. But, what if a story could be — more? What if a story could change your life in a substantial, positive way? What if a story could take you to the pinnacles of success and show you how to scale life’s mountains too?
Well, that is what Let Me Tell You a Story podcast with Mark Bowser is all about. Professional Speaker & Author Mark Bowser will take you behind the scenes of some of history’s greatest feats and unknown achievements so that their stories can be a city on a hill shining like a beacon in the night inspiring us to live our best! Come join us every Monday and Thursday! Please subscribe now so that you won’t miss one exciting episode. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, etc….
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