AUSTIN (KXAN) - On Wednesday, Peter Robinson told the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin that he vividly recalls the day he was hired to write speeches for Ronald Reagan.
"Nobody asked to read a writing sample, which was good because I had never written a speech in my life," he said.
Robinson was one of 14 speechwriters who worked in the Reagan White House, and he wrote one of the president's most famous lines -- when in Berlin he declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." That was 25 years ago this week.
Getting the assignment, Robinson decided to tour Berlin and view the wall firsthand. He found East Berlin drab and overwhelming.
"I thought I was in trouble. 'How do I compose a draft for the president that is equal to the sense, the weight of history in this place?'" he said of his thoughts at the time.
Robinson had another problem.
Every bureaucrat, every diplomat said the president must not mention the wall, that it would be inflammatory. Robinson decided to ask some ordinary West Berliners what they thought of the wall.
Robinson recalled the man's answer.
"One man raised his hand and said, 'My sister lives just a few kilometers in that direction, and I haven't seen her in more than 20 years. How do you think we feel about that wall?'"
In the end, Robinson had the one vote he needed.
In a speech-drafting session, he asked the president what he wanted to say in Germany.
"The president thought for a moment, then said, 'Well, there's that passage about tearing down the wall. That's what I'd like to say to them. That wall has to come down,'" Robinson said.
The rest, as they say, is history.
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