On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came crashing down. Today marks the twentieth anniversary of that great day – one of the greatest in the history of human freedom. Communism in Germany finally collapsed, setting off a domino effect that would reach Moscow within two years. Families torn apart for nearly three decades came together in tearful, happy reunions as the world watched. The Cold War was finally, mercifully, ending.
Many historians cite World War I as the twentieth century’s opening act. Sixteen million souls died in that war over nothing. Two of the nations it toppled became the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Communist and fascist governments would combine to kill more than one hundred million people over the next seven decades. Those needless deaths are the twentieth century’s legacy, every bit as much as the transistor or rock ‘n roll.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was that short, bloody century’s coda.
November 9, 1989 was also the start of something better. It was a nation’s way of saying that it was ready to move on to better times. To a new world defined not by oppression, ideology, and servitude, but by freedom. Sweet, precious, fragile freedom. Seeing the footage on the news was like witnessing something being born. The hope and potential that surround every birth were glimmering in people’s eyes. It was beautiful.
What Berlin’s people did on that day also inspired half a continent to send the same message to their leaders. What a noble achievement. How worthy of commemoration, now that twenty years have passed.
What a shame, then, that this milestone has been treated more like a millstone by the media. Reporters more concerned with today’s news cycle are giving at best perfunctory attention to a day that showed us all that is good about humanity.
To partially right that wrong, CEI has produced a short video commemorating what the Berlin Wall’s fall symbolizes. I hope you will watch it and enjoy it. Of course, it is hard to convey in a few short minutes what the people living in that Wall’s shadow went through for 29 long years.
So put yourself in their shoes. Think what they thought. Look right in the eyes of those separated families as they try to catch glimpses of each other over that wall. And the people who risked their lives escaping. And the soldier carrying back the body of someone who didn’t make it. What was going through his mind as he carried out his grisly task? That might give you an idea of what the Berlin Wall meant.
We all need to remember the Berlin Wall. We need to say to each other, “Never again.” And we have to mean it.