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NOV. 9TH, 2009: A MEANINGFUL DAY
Larry Greenfield, Fellow, The Claremont Institute
November 9, 2009
[Publisher's Note: Flash Report friend Larry Greenfield checks in from Berlin, Germany, where he is leading the U.S. Delegation for the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Flash]
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The date November 9th has unusual significance in Germany.
On Nov. 9, 1918, the short-lived Weimar Republic was established in post- emperor / monarchy modern Germany.
By 1923, Hitler chose this date to attempt his rule. He failed and was jailed, only to rise again with his Nazi revolution.
Plunging the Nazis fully and formally into their assault on humanity, Hitler again chose Nov 9, 1938, as the night of broken glass, Kristallnacht, the pogrom and violence against Jewish citizens, homes, shops, synagogues, and schools, and long- established civil life, throughout Berlin.
Finally, November 9, 1989, twenty years ago, the moment of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This stunning and happy event was coincidentally too on Nov. 9th, although the spiritual may smile that fate finally dealt Germany a kind card.
The accidental liberation and fall of the wall---a confused GDR leader simply announced to the press that East Berlin residents could cross unharrassed across the border checkpoints into the West after 44 years of Soviet enforced Cold War tyranny-- was, ultimately, of course, no accident at all.
Reunification of Germany followed years of heroic German and Polish and many-sourced European resistance and rescue, and, in no small part, the role of American President Ronald Reagan.
Both during and immediately after World War II, at Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam, Stalin, Churchill, and FDR, and then Stalin, Atlee, and Truman, carved up spheres of influence and condemned millions of Eastern and Central Europeans to sad and unfree lives behind the Iron Curtain.
The brutality of the East German Stasi military and political oppression, in Berlin, for example, marked years of human suffering, family separation, and failed socialist economics. The Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, and so many more in the Baltics, and throughout Eastern Europe, could only dream of joining the West in freedom.
And Berlin was the front lines between the United States and the Evil Empire.
As usual, the United States responded as the essential nation.
Following the heroic U.S.-led invasion and liberation of the European continent and the defeat of Nazi socialist fascism in the 1940's, American leadership, resolve, will, and moral imagination organized first the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Germany as well as our allies, then the 1948-49 American airlift to save 2 million West Berliners, and then the tanks and cold war confrontation / containment of communist expansion, enforced by millions of sacrificing U.S. troops, over decades.
President John F. Kennedy asserted a vigorous anti-communism and came to Berlin to declare that all free men stood with those behind the wall: Ich Bin Ein Berliner.
And, famously, as far back as 1962, in debate with Robert F. Kennedy, future California Republican Governor Ronald Reagan asserted that his idea for cold war solution was simple: liberate the peoples behind the wall.
President Reagan himself made 4 trips to Berlin:
In 1978, as a private citizen about to run for the White House, where he re-confirmed in his mind his philosophical disgust with the Berlin Wall.
In 1982, when, at the Berlin Wall, he purposefully and literally stepped across the line in the ground between the free west and the totalitarian east, signaling by personal gesture the meaning of his missile defense, and anti-communist rollback policies.
In 1987, when he challenged Soviet leader Mr. Gorbachev to come to this (Brandenburg) gate...to tear down this wall. (Reagan overruled his own advisers who counseled a less clearly ambitious claim that all men are created equal and deserved to be free).
And finally post-presidency, Mr. Reagan visited again, as a private citizen, to enjoy the newly re-unified and beautiful city of Berlin, one that would again become the capital city of Europe's strongest and most successful economy.
As our current U.S. friendship delegation visits Berlin, led by President's Reagan's political heir, Michael Reagan, we celebrate and promote the leadership and legacy of Ronald Reagan, with the opening of the permanent Ronald Reagan exhibit at the magnificent and famous Checkpoint Charlie museum, the house of freedom.
But we are alerted to the continuing and troubling news from back home.
The United States again faces challenges to its liberty, security, prosperity, and virtue.
Domestic Islamic terrorism and unconstitutional big government threaten the American way.
In every generation, President Reagan once clearly expressed , we must re-dedicate ourselves to the defense of freedom and our first principles.
Let us on this special anniversary of the fall of a European wall of repression, therefore, now renew our own national commitment:
We must always rise to the defense of liberty, which is our blessing, gift, inheritance, and sacred trust.
And we remember the meaning of both 11/9 and 9/11. Fate plays another card.
Larry Greenfield is Fellow in American Studies at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and Executive Director of the Reagan Legacy Foundation.
You can write to Larry, via the FR, right here.
Please join with me in praying for Larry's safety as he continues on this dangerous trip.