Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PDP #128: Just Another Brick From the Wall

Twenty years and one day ago, the Berlin Wall came down. I don't have any memory of it; at six years of age, I had other things to pay attention to, and my first news-event memory that's stuck with me wouldn't come around until 1991 and Operation Desert Storm. Randy McDonald at A Bit More Detail wrote a good piece yesterday on how the fall of the Wall meant the end of the existential fear of annihilation (which, personally, I still can't fathom how it didn't drive older generations somewhat insane) - you should read it.

But its fragments are still around, to remind us. While in Montreal last August, I found a tall and narrow slab of the Wall set up in part of the RÉSO underground network, in a place of honor in the middle of a corridor where it couldn't be missed. Toronto has its own piece, but it's a bit harder to find.

The "Freedom Arches" are three metal arches that span the reflecting pool in Nathan Phillips Square at the foot of City Hall, "dedicated to the millions who struggled including Canadians, to gain and defend freedom and to the tens of millions who suffered and died for the lack of it." At the foot of one of these arches you'll find what looks to be an ordinary piece of concrete, but the mounted plaque tells that it's something more. This is Toronto's piece of the Berlin Wall.

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