BERLIN -- The U.S. Embassy in Berlin unveiled a statue of Ronald Reagan on Friday at a site overlooking the location of the former president's iconic speech imploring the Soviet Union to remove the Berlin Wall.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the inauguration of the work a "monumental moment" before helping remove the cover from the larger-than-life statue on the Embassy's terrace, at eye-level with the top of the landmark Brandenburg Gate.
Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Pompeo was winding up a two-day trip to multiple cities and towns for commemorations.
The gate, which was just on the East German side of the Wall, was the backdrop for Reagan's 1987 speech in which he challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to go further with the reforms he was instituting.
Reagan implored him: "If you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Pompeo praised Reagan for his bold defense of freedom, telling a gathering of politicians, diplomats, donors and others that the former president "courageously denounced the greatest threat to that freedom, the Soviet Empire, the Evil Empire."
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas drew domestic and international flak recently for failing to mention Reagan -- or any other American -- in an op-ed published in 26 European newspapers focused on the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of communism.
"Dear Minister Maas, on behalf of the late President Reagan, whom you don't mention, and the millions of American Soldiers who served in West Germany along with your other NATO Allies, you're welcome," former U.S. Army Europe commander, retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, wrote on Twitter.
Maas sought to defuse the criticism Thursday at an event with Pompeo, saying "we owe you our freedom and unity to a decisive degree," while singling out contributions from Reagan and former President George H.W. Bush.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell earlier this year opened a multimedia exhibit on the same terrace focusing on Reagan's Brandenburg Gate speech, and said the statue was a tribute to a president whose "willingness to defend people seeking greater freedom around the world remains an inspiration today to Germans, Americans and every human being."