'Tear down this wall' speech reverberates through history

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Although far removed from the shadow of the Iron Curtain, the Portland waterfront has its own connection to a pivotal moment in the history of the Cold War.

Monday marks 30 years since Pres. Ronald Reagan spoke the famous words "tear down this wall" on a visit to West Germany on June 12, 1987. He was referring to the Berlin Wall which divided the German capital between its democratic half to the west and the communist side to the east. In addition to the audience that was gathered to hear him, Pres. Reagan was also speaking to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev whose country exercised control over the East German satellite state.

Two years after Pres. Reagan made his pronouncement, protesters overran the wall and began breaking off chunks. By 1990, demolition became government policy.

Pieces of the wall were scattered around the world and put on display as relics of a bygone era. One of those fragments found its way to Long Wharf in Portland. The misery recalled by that hunk of crumbling concrete and twisted steel strikes a jarring contrast with the quaint surroundings of tourist shops and pleasure boats.

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