Monday, November 9, 2009

The Berlin Wall

I was nine years old when the Berlin Wall fell, but I still remember the event. Back then the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were seemingly always about a moment from destroying each other. We were long past the days of duck and cover. (Perhaps because someone pointed out the absurdity of hiding from a nuke under a small wooden desk.) However the threat was still very real until the moment the Berlin Wall came down.

Their is great history behind the Berlin Wall. The Wall was completed on August 13, 1961. This closed the border between the communist East Berlin and the democratic West Berlin. The Wall was more than 87 miles long. Many families were separated and would not be reunited until the Berlin Wall fell. On June 26, 1963 President John F. Kennedy went to West Berlin and uttered the now famous phase "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner). The phase was intended to be a shot at the Soviets as well as the encourage people in West Berlin. Another American President would deliver a similarly iconic speech on June 12, 1987 at the Brandenburg gate. "We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Just a little over two years later the wall did come down.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was the first visible sign weakness from the Soviets. While it is now well known that many of their shows of might were just that shows in 1989 they were still viewed as the one of the World's two superpowers. When the people in East Berlin took their sledgehammers to the wall twenty years ago they did so under the threat or maybe in their minds the certainty of death. The people of East Germany and West Germany decided that they'd rather die than live one more day without freedom. Only because they were willing to die for freedom did they received freedom. Men can only have freedom if they are willing to die for it and can only keep it in the same way.

Here in America we must never forget as President Reagan so eloquently said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." Here in America has long has we have brave men and women willing to go across the world to fight for freedom we will always be free.

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