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May 31, 1988

May 31, 2018

The speech was given in English, but the first paragraph contained a Russian phrase, as did the final sentence.

The speaker mentioned Dostovesky’s quest for truth and Pasternak’s passages on human freedom.  Regarding the author of War and Peace, he hoped that “like the fresh green sapling planted over Tolstoy’s grave,” freedom would “blossom forth at last in the rich fertile soil of your people and culture.”

He quoted Mikhail Lomonosov, the 18th century founder of Moscow State University, who said: “It is common knowledge that the achievements of science are considerable and rapid, particularly once the yoke of slavery is cast off and replaced by the freedom of philosophy.”

He cited the accomplishments of Moscow State University’s most famous 20th century graduate.  Almost one year earlier, when the speaker was in Berlin, he had excoriated this alumnus when he loudly proclaimed: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  Five years earlier he had called the Soviet Union an Evil Empire.  Today, May 31, 1988, as he spoke to the students at Moscow State University, he commended Gorbachev for signing the INF Treaty the previous December and celebrated Gorbachev’s people for their imagination, beauty, and heart.

In this speech he did not avoid difficult issues or minimize the problems that were ahead, but he also encouraged his listeners to face the future with courage and optimism.  That’s just how Ronald Reagan was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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