6th Grade, The Berlin Wall, Hasselhoff, and Joy

In 6th grade we were assigned a report on a country. We could choose. It had to be a certain length and we had to make a poster to accompany our report.

My friends chose happy countries like Sweden and Australia.

I chose East Germany.

I always gravitated toward the stories with lots of human suffering.

The research fascinated me. I learned of hardship, poverty, oppression, the tearing apart of families. I tried to imagine life lived behind the Berlin Wall.

I don’t recall the exact due date of the report. All I know is that by the time it was due, my report was obsolete because, well…

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They knocked down the Wall. East Germany rejoined West Germany.

My country was no longer a country.

Being 12, I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of what was going on. But I remember watching every bit of the coverage that my mom would allow.

When I saw the reunions of people who’d been apart for decades without any means of communication my heart felt for them. It was a confusing feeling, both joy and pain.

I thought it was so cool that David Hasselhoff got to perform on the Wall. I mean, it was the 80’s. Don’t judge me.

It was a remarkable time, witnessing German history from my house in Michigan. Seeing people who shared my heritage who were finally free.

In A Cup of Dust, Meemaw says, “Every storm has a beginning and every storm’s got an end. They never last forever.”

As the author, I’d love to take credit for that, but I don’t feel like I can. That’s Meemaw’s. And she’s the kind of lady I want to grow up to be like.

Anyway, she’s right.

When I think of my life, I see the storms. I remember thinking that was how it always would be. When in the middle of terror or loss or hardship, it’s easy to despair. To give up hope.

To believe that those walls that hold us back from joy will stand firm forever.

It might take weeks or months. Maybe years or decades. But the dark doesn’t win out. The sorrow may take us through a dark night.

But…

Walls crumble under sledgehammers.

Storms die down.

Seas calm.

Joy comes in the morning.

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7 thoughts on “6th Grade, The Berlin Wall, Hasselhoff, and Joy

  1. Neat post. I saw the fence separating East and West Germany when I went to Europe with my grandparents when I was about the same age YOU were when you wrote your report (maybe a year or two older). It was fascinating for sure – and then, half a dozen plus years later, it came down. I remember seeing someone in one of the towers watching me – pointing his gun in my direction (at least it looked like it!).

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