Without a specific part of President Ronald Reagan’s numerous speeches identified, I will use one of his most iconic addresses as the basis for this analysis: the “Tear Down This Wall” speech delivered in 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.
This momentous speech stands out in the annals of history as a resounding call for the eradication of the Berlin Wall and, by extension, the end of the Cold War. The question of who constituted Reagan’s intended audience during this part of his speech is a complex one that transcends geographic and demographic boundaries.
At the most immediate level, Reagan was addressing the citizens of West Berlin who had gathered to hear him speak. His language was direct and potent, aimed to resonate with the individuals who lived every day in the shadow of the physical and ideological barrier that the Berlin Wall represented. His appeal for peace, freedom, and unity directly spoke to their experience of living amidst a city and a world divided.
However, the audience of this historic speech extended far beyond the city limits of Berlin or even the boundaries of Germany. It reached out to the wider international community, particularly those living in democratic societies. Through his strong, assertive language and uncompromising stance against the divide imposed by the Berlin Wall, Reagan aimed to rally the citizens of democratic nations worldwide. He sought to invigorate their belief in freedom, democracy, and the fundamental rights of all individuals.
Yet another layer of Reagan’s intended audience were the citizens trapped behind the Iron Curtain, particularly in East Berlin and the wider Eastern Bloc.
While they may not have been physically present or allowed to hear his speech due to the censorship of the communist regimes, his message was undoubtedly for them as well. He aimed to inspire hope and provide assurance that their plight for freedom was recognized and championed.
An additional and perhaps the most critical audience for Reagan’s speech was the leaders of the Soviet Union, especially its General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” became the rallying cry that reverberated around the world, reflecting Reagan’s direct challenge to the Soviet leadership to dismantle the oppressive symbol of the Cold War.
Finally, it would be remiss to overlook the American populace as a significant portion of Reagan’s audience. His strong stance against the division in Berlin was also a reaffirmation of his administration’s commitment to promoting freedom and democracy, underlining the United States’ role on the global stage.
In conclusion, the intended audience of Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech was a multi-faceted group. It ranged from the people present at the Brandenburg Gate to global citizens, from those yearning for freedom behind the Iron Curtain to the upper echelons of Soviet leadership, and back to the American people. Each was a distinct thread in the intricate tapestry of listeners that Reagan sought to reach with his impassioned plea for unity and freedom. The impact of his words is a testament to his ability to connect with each part of this diverse audience.