Wall Falling was America’s Highwater Mark

Twenty-five years ago the Berlin Wall fell.

Like much of America’s military, I was otherwise engaged “somewhere in southwest Asia” kicking Iraq out of Kuwait. We missed the Berlin party.

We visited the divided Berlin in 1988, driving through Checkpoints Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. (As a member of the occupying powers, I had the right to visit East Berlin … in uniform.) My family spent a day in East Berlin. Our blue Volvo 740 looked like a boat compare to resident’s drab Ladas and Wartburgs of those days.

Off the showcase streets, buildings were still pocked with bullet holes from the Soviet capture of the city in 1945. (Left as a not-too-subtle reminder, perhaps? The Soviets had no concept of subtle. They would have been funny had they not been so dangerous. Like Putin.)

1989 was America’s high water point. The Soviet Union crumbling, China not yet a threat, we were the world’s sole “hyperpower.” American ideas, products and culture were everywhere.

We thought we could do anything. (We were wrong, but that’s another story.)