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MAE JULIAN

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Death of a President

 

Today came the expected news.‑ We have lost President Reagan. He was the one who seemed to restore sanity to a troubled United States.‑ He was warm, friendly, and sincere. That, alone, made him likable. But, the thing I will always remember most about him, was when he was addressing the crowd, and spoke the words: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

I was in Germany. I had been to the wall. I remember standing on a tall ladder looking over, and seeing the bleakest, saddest place I have ever seen: East Berlin. It was a gloomy day, but everything on the other side of the wall was gray. We saw Checkpoint Charlie. Guard towers were all around with soldier's menacing guns aimed at the crowd.‑ I knew that any of us could be dead with the pull of a finger. We saw huge rolls of barbed wire fence, causing anyone to think twice about making a run for it.

I remember being haunted for weeks, afterwards, on how I would escape if I were on the other side. It was only intensified when I went to a German prison camp and saw the rows upon rows of wooden single story dormitories where they held thousands of prisoners. The gas chambers were terrifying places. They had very low ceilings that I could touch if I held my palm up.‑ There were jets all over the ceilings,‑where the gas came out. It seemed to echo the cries of the ones kept there. I felt like there were ghosts all around.

Well, to watch President Reagan stand, and demand, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," hit me with great impact. I felt our American President spoke the words for all of us. And then, finally, the wall was smashed, kicked, slammed, danced on, and brutalized with a rage that was palpable.‑ The wall came down. Freedom had spoken. Our president had spoken. He was a great and honorable man. That's the way I will remember the now late President Reagan. We were fortunate to have him, and he will be missed.

 

Mae Julian

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