Ascending to the presidency in 1980 on a pledge to restore "the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism," Reagan — a former actor and two-term California governor — remade the Republican Party in his own image of fiscal and social conservatism.
Join us as the nation pays tribute to a man who changed America and the world forever...
Plus, don't miss these other special programs:
• "The Real Reagan" at 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. ET, hosted by Tony Snow
Some of Ronald Reagan's closest friends, relatives and cabinet members come together before a live audience. Included in this unprecedented gathering on the stage of the Reagan Building are Alexander Haig, Mike Deaver, son Michael Reagan, Lyn Nofziger and Peter Robinson
• "Tear Down This Wall" at 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET, hosted by Tony Snow
In the early morning hours of August 13, 1961, East Germany began constructing a monstrous affront to humanity… the Berlin Wall. For 28 years, the wall stood as a stark and defiant symbol of communism’s place in the Cold War, but its destruction provided the defining legacy for a presidency.
When President Reagan traveled to Berlin on June 12, 1987, he had already established his anti-communist credentials. But that day, with a single speech, he delivered a message that toppled a wall and an empire. Nobody imagined then how quickly the people of East Germany would take up Reagan’s challenge to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and how soon the Soviet Union and communism in Eastern Europe would collapse.
But If President Ronald Reagan had heeded the advice of key aides, he never would have given his Berlin Wall speech. Advisers feared that he would provoke and inflame communist governments; that he would look unpresidential. But he was the president. He made the call. And, as you’ll learn, this speech was pure Ronald Reagan.
In this program, key officials and members of Reagan’s staff will give you a rare look at the fighting and infighting that took place during the writing of this speech.
You’ll meet a group of Berliners who will tell you how the wall affected their lives, and about the unusual role they played in preparing the speech.
You’ll hear from Sergei Khrushchev, the son of America’s Cold War nemesis, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. He’ll tell you why his father built the wall and reveal the details of several highly dangerous nuclear close calls.
And, you’ll get reaction to the speech… after 15 years… from Gorbachev himself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.