Did you see or hear the reports on the toppling of the big statue in the center of Baghdad? It reminded me of another monument of dictatorship that fell not so long ago.
If you saw or heard the new reports, they kept comparing the pulling down of the statue to the fall of the Berlin Wall. I grew up in the shadow of the Wall. Born in Germany, I lived most of my early life there. We were in the States when the wall came down. I remember standing in my parents family room watching it on TV with everyone. My sister was standing next to me. We were both completely stunned. We all knew the Wall was going to come down, it was inevitable. We just didn't think it would happen in our lifetime. I remember turning to my sister and trying to say something but nothing came out. We stood there looking at each other for a few moments, not speaking. When we finally were able to talk we both said the same thing, we never thought we'd live to see it fall. Now it was coming down.
Today I watched as the US Marines took Baghdad. I watched as the Iraqi men climbed the statue and put a big rope around its neck. Then, this big guy came over with a sledgehammer and started pounding away at the base of the statue. Others took turns hitting it. At this point I needed to leave for a doctors appointment. I listened to the rest in the car on the radio. I heard when the reporter said the Iraqi men were asking the Marines for help. Listened as they described the work the Marines and the Iraqi men did to attach a chain or cable to the statue. When the news reporters described the moment the statue fell I had a great swell of emotions fill me. It brought me back to that day when the Wall came down. Now, the Iraqi people would be able to feel the joy of freedom that had been kept for them for so long. It won't be easy and it will take a lot of work to make a stable government & economy in the years to come. Just ask the Germans. But the chance is there now for the people to rebuild. The opportunity exists.
Most of the people in the US don't know what it's like to live with guns and tanks and missiles aimed at you. Most have no idea how crushing is can be to live in a police state. I had the fortune to see the former East Germany and other Eastern Block countries in the 70's and 80's. To see the weight of oppression bearing down on the people you pass in the streets. Seeing it in their eyes; hearing it in their voices. Knowing that if they were seen talking to you they could be arrested and jailed. I wish there were some way to teach the people of the US what it is really like to live in this kind of world and not just read it in books or see glossed over images on TV. Maybe then they would have a small understanding of how the people in Baghdad felt as that statue came falling down.