Walls surround our world for many different reasons.  While some are visible, other walls are invisible.  This month marks the anniversary of one of the most notorious walls ever built, The Berlin Wall.  Construction of the Berlin Wall began 58 years ago on 13 August 1961.  It was built to separate East Germany from West Germany.  While West Germany remained a democracy, East Germany turned to Communism.  The wall cut into Berlin, the heart of Germany.

Before the Berlin Wall was constructed, Germans had the freedom to travel from East Germany to West Germany without any restrictions or fears.  They had many reasons to travel such as work, leisure and visiting family.  After the Berlin Wall was created, going to East Germany and West Germany became difficult, dangerous and even deadly. Hundreds of Germans died trying to escape over the Berlin Wall.  One of the most notable deaths of an individual attempting to cross over the Berlin Wall was that of Peter Fechter.  When he was just 18, Fechter was shot and bled to death on 17 August 1962.  Fechter never received any medical attention.  However, Fechter did not die in vain since he became a symbol for the German people representing democracy and bravery.  The death of Fechter also captured media attention worldwide.

Even those who survived suffered tremendous loss after the Berlin Wall was built.  As a result of the Berlin Wall, many families were separated.  Many businesses, homes and landmarks were destroyed due to the infamous wall.  Even with the Berlin Wall, many Germans never lost hope that democracy would return to East Berlin.

Ronald Reagan, with his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate on 12 June 1987, gave the people of Berlin hope that they would find freedom once again.  In addition to many other strong remarks, Reagan’s most famous catch phrase remains:  “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.”  With those words, Berliners, from East to West, cheered.

President Reagan ignited a fire that gave Berliners passion to fight for democracy. Young Berliners wanted to have one of the greatest gifts of all, freedom.  Through protest, they were now fighting back because they were tired of the old regime.

Not only did President Reagan inspire Berliners in their quest to destroy the wall, famous musicians also played a crucial role in bringing back democracy to East Berlin.  David Bowie will always be remembered fondly in Berlin because he gave a concert near the Berlin Wall on 6 June 1987.  Many other artists helped bring democracy to Berlin, such as actor and singer David Hasselhoff, but the bravest of all was Bruce Springsteen.

While John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan safely gave their speeches in West Berlin, Bruce Springsteen and his E-Street Band played Rock in the heart of East Berlin.  Through his courage, Springsteen certainly showed that he was a patriot, like his signature song, “Born in the USA,” committed to spreading the seeds of democracy where there was oppression.

After all struggles for freedom, a right that many take for granted, the Berlin Wall finally came down on the evening of 9 November 1989.  As Berliners cheered, they also never forgot those that were lost trying to cross the wall. Many Berliners started knocking down the wall together in an act of solidarity.  Pieces of the wall can still be found worldwide.  These remnants of the wall teach us, among many other lessons, the importance of preserving democracy.

It took 28 years for the Berlin Wall to finally come down.  Even with its demise, families that were separated would never be the same again.  The collapse of the wall would never bring back those who perished trying to cross it.  However, Berliners had reclaimed their nation, and now traveling freely from East Berlin to West Berlin was finally a reality.  Even though Germany may still have its problems, like many other nations, at least Germans how have freedom.

Despite the fact that the Berlin Wall was destroyed, there are still many walls across the globe.  These walls were built for many reasons such as political motives, social motives or economic motives – – just to name a few examples.  These walls still create divisiveness and obstruct many breathtaking views.

There are also invisible walls that we create.  Whenever we display hate, envy, prejudice, racism, sexism, homophobia, as well as other damaging emotions, we are building invisible walls.  When we get rid of these negative feelings, that simply poison us, we destroy those invisible walls.

When astronauts look at Earth from their spaceship, they see our planet as blue and shiny beautiful world with no divisions.  From outer space, you cannot see the walls that mankind has created, so the view of Earth is breathtaking.

As for all the walls surrounding our planet, whether they are visible or invisible, they may never come down.  Hopefully, all of these walls will collapse one day because that will be the day when we will be one step closer to achieving world peace.