On June 12, 1987 Germany was celebrating their 750th anniversary of Berlin and many dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth had visited. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was also due to visit in a matter of days. President Reagan was already in Europe for a planned visit in Italy for an economic conference when the West German government requested him to visit and the necessary plans were put into place. The President's staff and aids, including National Security Advisor Colin Powell, pushed for the Reagan to stay away from controversial topics which could inflame relations with the Soviet Union which Reagan had built up. Reagan's speech writer and Reagan himself disagreed. They felt this was an opportunity and they took full advantage. Reagan delivered one of his most memorable and one of the most important speeches in history. He directly challenged the Soviet Union to open the Brandenburg Gate, to show the world that their small measures toward freedom and liberty meant something. Reagan challenged Gorbachev to remove the symbol of oppression, he challenged him to "tear down this wall."