My memories of the fall of the wall, and the people walking and then driving to west Berlin and the like, are not that strong. Oddly enough, I more clearly remember watching on television the coup against Gorbechev, perhaps because I was in [Wales] at the time. However, I do remember caring about it and doing reports on it and making aluminum foil dioramas. My pastor had actually gone to Berlin soon thereafter and gotten me a few pieces of the wall, for which I’m still grateful. My mom actually had visited the divided city, her stories of riding the subway around and seeing the shuttered East Berlin stops and their exposed lightbulbs and single patrolling guard has always stuck with me.
I’ve had a chance to tour the reunited Berlin and loved the experience. That said, some of the East Berlin construction has got to be the ugliest architecture I’ve ever seen, and that includes Communist construction in the PRC.
All in all, I find the steady consolidation of Europe to be one of the most inspiring stories in human history, made all the more remarkable by its peacefulness after such a destructive past. While the EU has a stodgy technocratic reputation, its steady peaceful expansion has far outstripped the 20th century expansion of the U.S. At the same time, I’m quite proud of the role the U.S. played in the reunification of Berlin and Germany as a whole. We put our faith in the peaceful democratic nature of our two-time enemy and that belief has been redeemed.