Monday, November 09, 2009

Thankful for Freedom.

"The remembrance of November 9, 1989, not to mention the remembrance of the horrific proceedings of the (Kristallnacht) pogrom on November 9, 1938, unmistakably teaches us: Walls - whether real or in the heads and hearts of people - walls do not solve any problems."

~Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of Germany's Bishop's Conference

If you've read my blog for a little while, you know that I had the opportunity to spend about ten days in Berlin this last March. As you can imagine, there has been a lot going on this year in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I was humbled as I read story after story of those who attempted to escape, of those who were separated from family, friends, and neighbors, of those who were essentially held prisoner in their own country.

The Berlin Wall fell when I was 11 years old. I remember watching on television, the hordes of people celebrating at the wall. I don't think I'll ever forget the look of sheer joy of new-found freedom on the faces of so many parading across that screen. They may not have endured hunger or ran around in rags, but they lacked freedom and the ability to choose for themselves. Free agency is the ultimate gift, a privilege they were denied for far too long.
Much of the wall is now torn down, being sold in gift shops all over Germany, but two parallel rows of brick sweep through the city, marking the path where the wall once stood. Walking across that brick marker is rather exhilarating and unbelievable to think that twenty years ago, that never would have happened. I never would have just walked over that line freely. There was a wall there. A barrier.
Even though most of the wall is no longer standing, there still are several large sections of the wall that remain. Remnants of an era of war. I suppose I'd like to see them stay forever, as a reminder of a hell that none of us wants to see repeated.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to be in Berlin. Thankful to the Jacobsens for their generosity in getting me there. Thankful to see the remains of a an era. To walk the streets. To be there during such a celebratory year as this. Twenty years.

I am so grateful to live in a free country. A country that is fundamentally committed to human rights, democracy, and freedom. Freedom is truly priceless. Today's anniversary is a good reminder, and for that I am thankful.

No comments: