Twenty Years Ago Today

...The Berlin Wall came down. It hardly seems possible that it has been twenty years since that momentous event. For me, as a former resident of West Berlin for almost four years, it was a joyous occasion.

West Berlin was a huge city, and there were large areas of it where the Wall was not even visible. Still, it was always a looming presence. We knew that the Wall was there, and we knew that the people on the other side of it were not free. They were held on the other side by guards with machine guns and dogs, by barbed wire and concertina wire and tank traps and mines.

And then, almost miraculously, the Berlin Wall fell, the guards and their dogs and their guns disappeared, the wire was taken down, the mines disarmed. The Iron Curtain vanished in a cloud of rust. The people in the East, who had not known freedom in half a century, suddenly emerged to blink and bask in its bright light. It was a beautiful thing to see.

Today, even twenty years later, watching the dominoes symbolizing the Wall toppling, I can't help but smile.