November 9, 1989 is not a day that sticks in my head. The fall of the Berlin Wall does not weigh on my mind the way the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War, or September 11 does. Mostly I remember the end of the Cold War as a confused and jumbled series of images.
For instance, I never understood what was going on with Yeltsin on the tank. I never understood the steps that led to the pictures of people in the middle of the night smashing up the Wall with their bare hands. To be honest I still don’t know much about what happened. I suppose this is partly because I lived through it and history in the moment is much less cut and dried with clear implications than it is long after the fact. Partly it is because I just never studied 20th century history.
But the further removed we get from November 9, 1989, the more the importance of the date looms in history. Some day I expect it will rank with the adoption of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the surrender of Nazi Germany and all the other great days of Liberation in the history of man.
That is, of course, provided we remember it. And why it matters.