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Manfull: 25 years in Berlin

BY ERIN MANFULL | NOVEMBER 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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On Sunday, Berlin celebrated 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, a concrete barrier running 160 kilometers (just under 100 miles) separating communist East Berlin and capitalist West Berlin.

Personally, it’s hard for me to imagine a nation divided into two or a nation overrun by communism. But it’s even harder for me to envision a cement wall intruding upon a nation and its people that lasted until merely 25 years ago. But in 1961, this was the reality I so fearfully envision.

On Nov. 9, 1989, Germans for the first time in 38 years were able to freely travel between East and West Germany. After 38 years, I can only imagine the freedom they felt as they walked to and from the formerly restricted and isolated sides. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the hope they must have felt for brighter days ahead.

At the quarter-century anniversary of the collapse, it seems only fitting that the ceremony would revolve around the hope Germany still looks for, decades after the collapse of Nazi control. In effort to “shed some light” on the country’s battle for unity, a light installation was erected on a 9½-mile path where part of the Wall once stood. On Sunday, one by one, these lighted balloons were released into the night sky.

I’m a believer in symbolism, and this was the perfect installation to celebrate 25 years of unity after 38 years of torment and divide. With nearly 8,000 balloons released into the darkened night, it’s as if each one represented the light at the end of the tunnel for all those years the light and hope for a better day seemed almost elusive.

It’s almost as if those 8,000 balloon lights ignited a path that once destroyed a nation, yet at the same time, they’re the same 8,000 lights used to symbolize the triumph over the Wall. With the release of each individual balloon into the night, a piece of the past was also let go, and a glimpse into the future shone brighter.

There is most definitely a reason the light fixtures were the chosen representation for the 25th anniversary. It proved that there is still hope, not just after the demise of the Wall, but for the world.

Especially in conflict-stricken areas internationally, it’s a nice reminder that no matter the struggle or the burden, there is always a sliver lining — and if you look hard enough, there’s always a little light at the end of the tunnel.

For 25 years, Berlin has attempted to reunite and resurrect its community.  It hasn’t been easy, or smooth, by any means. But 25 years ago, when the people themselves began to tear down the Wall that once divided them, the first step to end division was boldly taken.


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