Berlin Wall Now in Pieces Across USA

FULTON, Mo. — Twenty years after it fell, the Berlin Wall has spread around the world, morphing en route from an instrument of oppression to a symbol of freedom.

The wall is found across the U.S. — in scores of major fragments and sections on display in at least 26 states, from a community college in Hawaii to a floating restaurant in Maine to a park near the World Trade Center.

Pieces of the wall are in seven presidential libraries, a Chicago elevated train station and the men's room of a Las Vegas casino. There's one in the Microsoft cafeteria in Redmond, Wash., another at Fort Knox, Ky. Parts of the wall are at CIA headquarters in Virginia and the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando.

And the wall is here, 4,700 miles from the city it once divided, in the college town where, in 1946, Winston Churchill named the Iron Curtain.

Westminster College is one of the places where the Cold War began and one of the ones where it ended, the Fort Sumter and the Appomattox of the four-decade struggle between democratic capitalism and totalitarian communism.

Here, Churchill — just voted out of power as Britain's prime minister — warned that "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent."

And here, on a visit in 1992, former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev declared that the end of the Cold War was a "shattering of the vicious circle into which we had driven ourselves."

Gorbachev spoke in front of the longest (32 feet) continuous stretch of the original wall outside Germany. The side that faced West Berlin is covered with graffiti, including the word "unwhar" — untrue. The eastern side is as gray as a prison wall.

Churchill's granddaughter, sculptor Edwina Sandys, had the section brought here and cut out holes in the shapes of a man and a woman. She called it Breakthrough.

As they pass the sculpture on campus, people talk about what the wall means now and about whether, on the first major anniversary of the wall's fall since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, they're safer than 20 years ago.

To some, the wall's remains are relics of victory in America's longest conflict — a bracing contrast at a time when the nation is bogged down in one war and extricating itself from another.

Bob Hawkins, 87, was in the audience the day Churchill spoke here. He calls the wall "a symbol of the triumph of our system over communism. They couldn't match us. The erection of that wall was a confession of that."

But what's left of the wall transcends the Cold War.

Broken, graffitied, dispersed, it has reversed its meaning, especially for those not alive when it was erected in 1961 or torn down 28 years later. Jaclyn Muff, a junior from East Alton, Ill., was born five months before the wall came down.

"It separated Germany," she says, "but now it's everywhere," implicitly demanding freedom from walls — in our world, our communities, our personal lives.

On Monday, the 20th anniversary of the day East Berliners were told they could now visit the West and flocked to the wall, celebrations are planned around the world.

In Berlin, more than 1,000 8-foot-high foam domino tiles will be stacked along the wall's former route and toppled. In Los Angeles, panels from the original wall have been erected along Wilshire Boulevard.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...