Built in 1961, the Berlin Wall stood for 28 years at the front line of the Cold War between the Americans and the Soviets.
It had carved a 97.2-mile swath through Berlin’s heart and the surrounding countryside, and through the hearts of many of its people.
Seeming as permanent as death to many, it cut off East Germans from the West and stemmed the tide of people fleeing East Germany.
Directly across the street from the wall, the Lutheran Lazarus Order ran a clinic that helped those who were injured trying to get through the barrier, with its watch towers and armed soldiers. The sisters also took care of burying those who died seeking freedom.
"Families were torn apart, people couldn’t move freely from one neighborhood to the other anymore, many died trying to run away to the West," Sister Brigitte Queisser told The Associated Press.
But 30 years ago, thousands of East Germans found freedom by seeking refuge in the West German embassy in Prague. And that revealed cracks in a barrier that East German leader Erich Honecker months earlier said would "still exist in 50 and even in 100 years, if the reasons for it are not overcome."
Honecker’s ill-fated comment came on Jan. 19, 1989. Less than 10 months later, his presidency had ended, his country was crumbling and the wall had come down.
Thirty years ago today, East Germany opened its heavily fortified border after 28 years. Over the subsequent weeks and months, people chipped away at the wall.
"Official German reunification is complete. But the unity of the Germans, their unity was not fully complete, ... and that is still the case today," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany. "German unity is not a state, completed and finished, but a perpetual process."
The same could be said of America today, not with a literal wall but a partisan divide. So we should take a lesson from our allies in Germany and tear down that wall for the good of the United States of America.