My first trip to Berlin was in June 1987, when I stood on the west side of the Brandenburg Gate and listened to President Reagan call on Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Here I am again, in almost the same spot, and I’m watching Secretary Clinton walk through the gate from east to west with a group of German high school students from the east. The map of this part of Europe has changed a lot since my first trip.
The high school students painted one of the domino stones that will fall during tonight’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. We met the students through their English teacher, who participated in one of the embassy's programs to introduce East German teachers to the United States. If I think the world has changed, their teacher has experienced this more profoundly. In 1985, she began teaching Russian behind the Iron Curtain, and she is now chatting with the U.S. Secretary of State.
Her students were born after the Fall of the Wall and actually had to conduct research before painting their stone. One side of their stone displays an iconic Trabant car, packed suitcases and a rainbow and blue sky in the distance, images which symbolize the longing East Germans felt for freedom. The back side of the panel depicts the Angel of Hope. Twenty years ago today, the hopes of their parents came true.
Related Information: Voices of U.S. Diplomacy and the Berlin Wall Online Exhibition