The Berlin Wall: 25 Years

I would be remiss if I did not write something acknowledging the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today. While I did not live through this chapter in civilization’s history, I’m confident that most of you have, and I’m confident that most of you can remember where you were when you heard the news—the news that the wall was down. Today, we remember this moment in time as the end of an era, the end of an empire. We remember it as a triumph of the human spirit. At the same time, we remember brave souls who risked everything for freedom while the wall still stood, and sometimes lost it. We remember people like the soldier in the image on the right, who risked and lost everything to help them. And we remember great leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who unlike the leaders of today, understood what it meant to take a stand for something.

I have seen a portion of the Berlin Wall. I saw it on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. It was standing in a corner near the exit, labeled with a barely readable plaque. One can only guess how the dollhouse display received greater prominence in the museum than this priceless piece of history. My family and I were fortunate to realize it was there instead of walking past it on our way out, as others surely had. We took a closer look. We read the plaque. We contemplated it together. Before we left, my father made a leap and reached out for the top of the wall over the glass. The rest of us weren’t tall enough to make the attempt. He caught up with us smiling.

“I touched it!”



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