Twenty years ago tomorrow, and I still hold my breath in wonder.
I was doing a very untypical thing for me – I was headed for the Czech border with three military-wife friends, to buy crystal. There was an unusual amount of traffic, all coming from the border, and the cars – not the normal beautiful cars you find on the German autobahns, but the fiberglass cars coming out of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc – miles and miles and miles on end, all headed West.
When it happened, we didn’t have a clue. There had been rising signs of unrest in the East, but that happens, and has always been ruthlessly put down.
The US had been in Germany forty years. In the most recent years, all the posts and all the military housing had undergone significant updatings – significant and expensive. If you asked anyone about the possibility of the wall coming down (Berlin Wall, for those of you who were not alive) they would just laugh.
“We’ll be here forever,” they would say.
So too, would Germans say.
“We’ve been divided for too long. We think differently,” they would say “We could never be re-united.”
In one joyful night, that all changed. As we reached our stop and went for dinner in our Gasthaus, the television showed the cars flowing over the borders, and the young dancing on the wall in Berlin. It was one of those rare occasions when the world held it’s breath in wonder and amazement; we did not know this was a possibility. Such joy!
Germany has struggled to make the reunification work. Even now, in the west, Germans will gripe about how all their tax monies are going to the east, and those from the east are taking their jobs, but in essence, the reunification has been a success, and the greater Germany is an amazing fact-of-life I never thought I would see in my life.
I still celebrate November 9th in my heart. Twenty years! It seems like yesterday.