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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Playing With The Enemy

Twenty years ago Ronald Reagan electrified millions of people behind the Iron Curtain when he demanded in a speech, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Sixty-seven years ago Gene Moore played baseball in Sesser, Illinois on a neighborhood team called the Egyptions. He was a big farm kid, six feet tall and only fifteen years old, when he was first noticed by a big league scout.

One year from now the story of Gene Moore will reach the big screen as a major motion picture. The movie is based on a book written by Gene's son, Gary W. Moore, titled: Playing With The Enemy.

After World War II the Cold War between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics commenced.

When World War II came to America in late 1941 in the form of an attack on Pearl Harbor, Gene Moore's baseball career was put on hold and he entered the United States Navy.

Nuclear tensions shaped society through the 1950's and 60's, marked by nuclear bombing drills where kids hid under their desks, and McCarthy searched for those that conspired with the enemy.

The reality of war shaped Gene Moore's life as he joined a special military baseball team created to entertain the troops in North Africa and played the game he loved as fighting loomed in the distance (eventually reaching the ball field and killing his centerfielder).

During the Cold War in East Berlin citizens feared secret police, enemy spies, and the stigma of Nazi Germany.

During World War II, after Gene Moore was no longer required to play baseball for the troops, he was sent to guard German prisoners of war in Louisiana, eventually teaching them to play baseball, and creating bonds that would last a lifetime.

During the 1980's communism was in crisis. Corruption had reached crippling levels. The technological revolution threatened to leave centrally planned economies permanently behind. Communism had failed its true believers. In East Germany, anger built until by 1989 five percent of German adults had taken the risk of being branded disloyal by requesting exit visas. Hungary began allowing East German tourists to slip through to the West, and it was becoming obvious, thanks to Reagan's strategies, that Marxism-Leninism would not be able to stay in place. Yet, despite the unrest, most Germans were still convinced that the prospect of a single Germany was a fantasy, even weeks before the wall fell.

May 13, 1983 Gene Moore passed away, leaving only clues about his past as it pertained to World War II and Baseball. Gene's wife was the only person that knew all of the details of Gene's remarkable life story, and it wasn't until much later that Gary W. Moore, his son, began putting the pieces together and began to write the book, Playing With The Enemy.

Communism became one of the numerous failures of history. Ronald Reagan first saw the Berlin Wall in 1978, and told his aide Peter Hannaford, "We've got to find a way to knock this thing down." After Reagan became president, he returned in 1982 and enraged the Soviets by taking a couple of ceremonial steps across a painted border line. Then, in 1987, he overruled his own State Department by giving the momentous speech in which he implored the general secretary directly to tear down the wall.

It wasn't until Gary W. Moore truly understood the history of his father's life that he was able to understand many of the shadowy incidents of his own past as they related to his father, Gene Moore. It was then that he truly understood the man he called father, and came to appreciate him in ways that he wished he could have told his father while he still walked the Earth.

It wasn't until after the tide of history changed and the Berlin Wall fell that we truly understood the reasons for Reagan's actions when dealing with the Soviets. The fallen Berlin Wall was both a vindication of the West's refusal to give in to the Soviets and a tribute to the spirit of those dissenters behind the Iron Curtain. Sadly, Russia is slipping back into authoritarianism.

The movie based on Gary W. Moore's book, Playing With The Enemy, will premiere in theaters on Fathers Day 2008, and the countdown begins on Political Pistachio Radio this Saturday. His publisher has authorized my radio show to give away two autographed copies of the book to two lucky listeners. To determine who receives these free copies I have devised a contest, and the two winners will win the two books. To be eligible to win simply submit questions you would like me to ask Gary W. Moore during the show, and the two best questions will receive a plug for their site and an autographed copy of Playing With The Enemy from the writer himself. Also, on the show, Ted Savas, Gary's publisher, will also be on the show, to give us insight on how he came to discover Gary and his fantastic story.

Submit the questions to douglasvgibbs at yahoo dot com, or to politicalpistachio at yahoo dot com. Please type "Playing With The Enemy" in the subject line.

Good Luck!

To see a video of Reagan's historic speech, CLICK HERE

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