The America in which I was raised always stood for freedom, and not just freedom for Americans but freedom for suffering people around the World. When I was an exchange student in Germany in 1983, I found myself in endless debates about this, and about my President Ronald Reagan and his desire to build a missile defense system in Western Europe. I loved the German people. The kids were so refreshing in many ways, but their cynical views of the motives of my President shocked me.
I admit that I am a little unique. As a fairly young child, I poured through every issue of Time magazine, which is like our version of the German magazine, Die Zeit. Jimmy Carter was the President. He talked of peace while cutting our defense spending. I remember being very scared seeing charts and graphs comparing our defense systems including war planes, ships and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The American armaments were blue and the Soviets vastly superior forced were Red. Here my story gets really odd. I was 12 years old when I read George Orwell’s 1984. The year was 1979. I was so struck by what I read and the parallels to the modern Soviet Union, that I picked up a copy of the Communist Manifesto. What I read made me nearly shriek in fear.
The Communist manifesto holds that communism cannot work unless the World is communist. The other fact I read, was that every time in this Century that America was attacked, a Democrat was in the White House, downsizing our military. So it was clear that the nearer the Soviet empire came to economic collapse, and had superior military capabilities, the more likely it was that they would attack. They were aggressively building up while Carter, the face of America, was downsizing our military. I often had trouble sleeping at night for fear of the Soviet missile attack. Then we elected Ronald Reagan.
Reagan became the new face of America to the World. My German friends did not like him. He moved fast and completely changed the course of America. He began rebuilding our military and he delivered that famous speech in Berlin in which he challenge Soviet President Michael Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” My teenage German friends kept arguing that Reagan was a war-monger and that while Americans were good people, our President was bad. I tried to explain that in our political system, you cannot separate the two. Our President is us. The President cannot go to war without the American people. But he will go to war to protect you. He wants to use American tax dollars to place a missile defense system in Western Europe to protect you, because he felt a moral duty to you.
One of the most momentous experiences in my life was in June of 1990. I was back in Germany! Now I was married and my new wife, Gina and I were making a fast trek through Europe on our way to Berlin. On Saturday, June 16, 1990 I had the amazing privilege to chop on the wall. I got very emotional and still do to this day, at the realization that I was literally tearing open the cage that imprisoned my fellow man. This was of course a symbolic move, although we wondered whether Gorbachev would change his mind or become the victim of a coup and the Wall chopping would stop. So I joined hundreds of people, mostly Germans, I rented a hammer and chisel and I chopped. The real satisfaction was that I had helped to elect a President who valued the individual lives of any human being, without regard to geography, religion or people group enough that he would risk everything to set them free. Now we have a new face of America.
We elected Barak Obama, and he does not feel that moral duty to you as Reagan did, at least not enough to stand up to the shrill American voices that hate the American military. So he will not be there on November 9th to Celebrate the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I do not think he sees it the way you do. He will also not participate in the festivities on the campus of my College. Westminster College, in my State of Missouri, is where the great Allied leader Winston Churchill gave the Iron Curtain Speech. He told the World how millions of our fellow human beings were being stuffed into the cage, the very cage I was privileged to help dismantle. He had a way with words. On the campus of another American College he gave his shortest speech “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give in.” But I digress.
Our new President believes that you are on your own. As the KGB agent-turned-billionaire, puppet master of the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin conducts war games of an assault on Poland, Obama has decided to tear down the American missiles from Poland. We knew that he cared less as he promised to remove our protection from the Iraqi people. 150 of them were slaughtered just this week. He really wants to find a way out of Afghanistan and pull our soldiers out just as you are pulling your U.N. workers out right now.
So my new President will not be there with you, like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were there for you. He has other priorities. I really wish I could be there to celebrate with you. Unfortunately, with the passing of time, I have five children, our economy is bad, and I too, have other priorities. So I am sorry that my President, the American face to the World will not be there for you. I feel just a little better knowing that you asked America to give him to you. I hope you like him.