Today, 25 years ago my life changed in a way that almost nobody could have ever anticipated. And along with it, it changed the entire world. Few peaceful events in history had such a dramatic global impact as the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As many of you know, I grew up in East Germany. When I was a little girl, I could have not dreamed in my wildest dreams to write this note while sitting at my kitchen table in Austin, Texas, USA. Each year on this day I am reminded how utterly unlikely it was for me to ever visit, let alone live in the United States. And yet, here I am! Wow. Life is something.
It is with deep, deep gratitude and respect that I commemorate this day, thinking of all the brave people who made it possible.
Even though the actual opening of the wall was sudden and fast, it took years and years of personal protests and small acts of civil disobedience by East German citizens. It took months and months of regular and peaceful Monday night demonstrations throughout East Germany. It took a wave of East Germans escaping their country in the summer and fall of 1989 via Hungary and the Czech Republic.
It also took a series of international events to support the general sense of dissatisfaction and desire for change: Gorbachev and Perestroika in the former USSR, the opening of the border from Hungary to Austria, as well as the Chinese student protests on Tiananmen Square. Each of these involved real bravery by people like me and you. And all of it counted and added up.
There’s so much more to say and share about this, but I’m afraid I’m running out of kleenex and must stop for now.
But I would like to say this:
Each individual who participated in these events has contributed significantly to the larger outcome which we commemorate today. One less person and it may not have added up. Even though we may often feel that we, as individuals cannot change the world, I am reminded today, that when enough individuals come together and stay persistent and peaceful, they can indeed.
A heartfelt thank you from me to all of the brave souls who made freedom happen.
I am forever grateful.