It’s hard to believe that it has been twenty years since the wall came tumbling down. I can still see and hear Ronald Reagan yelling at Gorbachov to ‘tear down this wall’. On Nov. 9, 1989 twenty years ago today, East German officials announced a government travel policy that changed the world and within hours, thousands of East Berliners began lining up at checkpoints near the Wall eventually overwhelmed by the masses the guards simply let everyone thru and the party began. Thousands joined arms…celebrated…exchanged hugs…kisses, gifs and flowers…families were rejoined and the world changed.
Peace By Peace
Piece-by-piece the wall began to be torn down…and the childhood fears of the Cold War came with it. Or should I say Peace-by-Peace? All my life up to that point we feared the U.S.S.R and what it represented and what might happen in the event of a full scale War. Within hours a lifetime of fear crumbled.
Who could forget the power in that moment…we have seen very few similar since…here was nearly 45 years of tension dissolved almost overnight. All the fears of the cold war seemed to be lifted…and without a doubt brought freedoms to those on the eastern wall that they may have never imagined or experienced. The world got smarter.
Growing up we saw countless movies, read books and heard stories from our parents, family and friends about the Soviet Union and what could happen. Since World War II millions feared what could be. And all the time in the back of my mind I felt like I would suspect millions of others on the eastern side of that Wall had felt…sharing the same fears…thoughts and trepidations. Now it is important to know that I never felt ill against the people of Eastern Europe…or the Soviet Union…never…it was the potential of what their government could do that I feared. But literally overnight that tension was eased…and eventually throughout the passing years it was nearly erased.
We had the Cold War…Our Kids Have 911
It’s hard to tell my children of this anxiety that the world shared…they have no point of reference. Like Pearl Harbor was to our parents…we had 911. Like the Berlin Wall and Cold War our children have little to compare. Perhaps the growing tensions with Al-Qaeda or maybe even the potential ills with China they can begin to relate. But as a child they didn’t practice hiding under a desk. Remember it was suppose to protect us from falling debris in the event of a bombing. Now I am sure the children of the former Soviet Union had the same fear and participated in the same drills. But my teen age sons can only read of it in a history book.
This is a photo of the Berlin Wall that I took with my cell phone. It resides at the Air force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.
We know that Reagan and Gorbachev didn’t actually order the wall to come down but the tensions of the time finally helped it crumble. Gorbachev then allowed democracy to continued to grow throughout Eastern Europe and the rest is history. I read an article today that Reagan stated, “If he (Gorbachev) took down the Wall, he’d win the Nobel Prize.” Gorbachev won the Nobel. Reagan was right.
The late great Ronald Wilson Reagan
I believed then and I believe now that Ronald Reagan rid the world of the Cold War. From his words, policies and the ability to outspend the U.S.S.R at the time moved us to a point where the Wall as a symbol had to come down. I would like to think Eastern Europe is better off since this happened. I would like to believe we could learn from history. I would like to believe that peace could overcome tyranny. There is plenty to learn from history if we choose to pay attention to it.