How Quickly We Forget

I remember 20 years ago.  I was 15, in the tenth grade and a Cold War child.  The Iron Curtain had existed for my entire life.  The USSR was that ominous lump on the map that straddled Europe and Asia like a malignant tumor.

In an effort one evening to avoid doing my homework, I turned on the old T.V. in our spare bedroom, and saw that both channels (yes, it only received two channels) were covering the same event.  Men and women from age 16 to 60, armed with pick axes and sledge hammers and crowbars were knocking apart the Berlin wall.  I watched as West Berliners reached down to help East Berliners climb the portions of the wall not yet dismantled; East Berliners stood in masses where only weeks before they would have been shot on sight.  Soldiers watched, impotently guarding a suddenly obsolete border.

I remember having two almost simultaneous thoughts as I watched the events unfold on the 12 inch screen.  The second thought was that the world I had always known was disappearing and something new and unknown was being built.  The first was that when my children asked me where I was when the  Berlin wall fell, I would have to tell them I was skipping my homework.

The Big Picture has a series of pictures commemorating the 20th anniversary of the wall falling.  As I looked through them (especially 12 – 15 which fade between then and now) I remembered thinking I would never forget that moment, and I remembered how quickly I forgot.