The advertiser is a company that was probably unknown to most viewers, 84 Lumber, from the town of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, with a population of less than 700 people. The building materials and supplies company put a human face to an issue that is arousing passions these days in the United States: a wall along the border with Mexico.
There are no politics in the ad. It just reminds that there was a time when American presidents, in a very different part of the world, stood up for freedom. A beloved leader, John F. Kennedy, proclaimed: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” The phrase—“I am a Berliner”—was meant to show support for the besieged residents of West Berlin in 1963, two years after the Soviet Union erected a wall that split the city from its eastern half.
Almost a quarter of a century later, in 1987, president Ronald Reagan urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, from West Berlin: “Tear down this wall.” Sometimes good things happen in politics: Gorbachev obliged two years, and made history. If the Berlin Wall came down, others can too. If they even get built.