November 9 – World Freedom Day

Posted on November 9, 2014

On this day in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell.

That makes today the 25th anniversary of the great event!

The ending of the Cold War was symbolized by the tearing down of the Wall. For decades, there had been tension between Communist Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union, and capitalist Western Europe, and the U.S. But starting around 1987, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had been making reforms in his nation, and the frosty relations between Eastern and Western Blocs had been improving. Communist leaders in various countries had been losing power. The groundswell of change came to head in Berlin, and when most of the actual wall was physically dismantled and destroyed (and sent around the world as souvenirs), the non-physical “Iron Curtain” was ripped away, psychologically speaking, as well. (Granted, it took another two years for the Soviet Union to fully dissolve and more democratic and capitalistic nations to spring up in its place.)

A portion of the wall still stands in Berlin.
Other fragments of the Wall
stand in various cities all over
the world as monuments.

The people pushing today as World Freedom Day want to celebrate the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. They celebrate that this war ended without a nuclear blast, without a final bloody battle, without losers, really – everybody won!

In this photo, you can see the colorful
decorations on the Western side of the
Berlin Wall. And then the large "kill zone"
on the Eastern side!
And the people of Berlin, Germany, are celebrating this 25th anniversary with a display of lights that followed the line that had been the wall. What was once a 12-foot concrete wall that cut the city in half—a wall that was guarded by barbed wire, towers, trenches, and guys with guns—is now marked with a line of 7,000 illuminated white balloons. Tonight, the balloons will be set free into the night sky.
This diagram shows some of the things that kept
people in East Germany from escaping to freedom.

Of course, this almost-effortless balloon release will be quite a contrast to the bulldozers, cranes, and people-with-hammers who demolished the wall 25 years ago. Still, Germans are hoping to teach their kids and grandkids about the real events being commemorated, probably in the hope that we can ward off tyranny if we teach kids about what tyranny looks like, and how terrible it is.
Check out this video of the balloon-wall in Berlin.

Also on this date:

Astronomer Benjamin Banneker's birthday

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