Colonel to speak at Purdue about Reagan's 'Tear down this wall' speech

January 29, 2015  

Col. Gail Yoshitani

Col. Gail Yoshitani

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A presidential historian will speak at Purdue University on Feb. 11 about the impact of former President Ronald Reagan's Berlin Wall speech.

Col. Gail Yoshitani will present "Six Words that Changed Our World: Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall" at 5:30 p.m. in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication.

"Colonel Yoshitani, a noted historian and President Reagan scholar, will share how one of the greatest presidential speeches came to be and its impact on the world and how the words from a 1987 speech still resonate today," said Carolyn Curiel, PICC executive director.

Reagan's words were delivered on June 12, 1987, while standing at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall. They were directed at the Soviet Union and its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, regarding the removal of the Berlin Wall, which divided Germany.   

Yoshitani currently serves as the acting deputy head for the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She graduated from the academy in 1992 and then served as a platoon leader for deployments to Panama and Haiti. Following company command she entered graduate school at Duke University, earned a master's degree in military history, and returned to West Point to teach in the Department of History from 2001-04.

In 2005 she was selected to serve as an army strategist, graduated from Command General Staff College, the U.S. Army War College's Basic Strategic Arts Program, and started teaching in the Department of Joint and Multinational Operations. She returned to the Department of History as an academy professor and chief of the American History Division in 2008 following the completion of her doctorate in military history at Duke University.

In 2011 she deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom to serve as the chief of the Commander's Initiatives Group for the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan. In 2013 she graduated from the U.S. Army War College.

The Purdue Institute for Civic Communication is a nonpartisan, university-wide initiative in experiential and applied learning. Through classes and in forums planned and produced by students, the institute brings real-world communication and policy leaders together with students.

Sponsored by the Bill Daniels Fund of Denver, the institute is led by Curiel, who also is a clinical professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication and former journalist, White House speechwriter and U.S. ambassador. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Source: Carolyn Curiel, 

Related website:

College of Liberal Arts 

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2014-17 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Integrity Statement | Copyright Complaints | Brand Toolkit | Maintained by Marketing and Media

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact us at so we can help.