Time to Reflect

Recently, it has been time to reflect. On the past, the present, and the future. Of course, it was Remembrance Day last week. I hope you at least spared a thought for those people who, every day, risk (and give) their lives in the service of our country. We owe them an unrepayable debt of gratitude for letting us live a life of such comfort, safety, and freedom.

But it was recently another occasion that's made me reflect on things: the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of East Germany. I have many vivid memories of those incredible days in 1989 when events long considered impossible began to unfold. I don't know how I was able to keep up with my studying, because I was glued to CNN for about a week straight.

Now you have to realize that this wasn't just some symbolic thing happening on the other side of the world. My heritage is German--in fact, I am the first generation of my family to be born in Canada. Considering what happened in Germany after World War II, it's a bit surprising that I even exist.

My mother's family lived in West Germany. My mom, being a sophisticated world traveler, eventually found her way to Canada. (I wish maybe she had gone a bit farther--Hawaii, perhaps? But then, at least she didn't stay in Iceland.)

My father's family, on the other hand, lived in East Germany. My grandfather, having experienced the Nazi regime, wasn't too keen on going through something similar when the communists occupied his country. So he decided to pack up his family--wife and four kids--and get out. This was before die Berliner Mauer went up, but it still wasn't easy to just leave the country. And when the wall went up, it did indeed form a symbolic barrier between their old life and their new one. (My dad could never go to East Germany to visit. If he did, they were sure to "invite" him to stay--forever.) Although my grandfather lived in West Germany for a while, eventually he decided to head for new territory and new opportunity in Canada. (Opa, couldn't you at least have considered Hawaii? Selling pineapples, learning to surf, that sort of thing? No?)

So, well, one things leads to another, my mom met my dad, and here I am. So upon reflection, what are the odds that I exist? If the communists hadn't kept their grip on the Soviet Zone... If my grandfather hadn't gotten his family out... If my mom had stayed in Iceland...

But I also reflected on my relatives, the ones who were still in East Germany in 1989. And the ones who were in West Germany. And now they were all in the same country together, for the first time. That was a good thing--for families to be together, comfortable, safe, and free.

I hope that walls continue to come down in the future. (Yeah, North Korea, I'm lookin' at you.)

Why aren't you studying?


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