The Berlin Wall fell twenty-one years ago this week.
Back in the Eighties there was a protest song by the German singer Nena: "Neunundneunzig Luftballons". Originally sung in German, it was later re-recorded in English as "99 Red Balloons".
The song tells a story of 99 balloons floating into the air, floating over the Berlin Wall to the Soviet sector and triggering an apocalyptic overreaction by military forces.
In the U.S. Army we have a saying: "When the Balloon goes up." This means when war breaks out, and we strap on our chutes, load up onto the C-130s and take that famous one-way trip:
I don't know where that saying comes from. I always wondered if it was from the time frame when they used hot air balloons for aerial observation posts.
In 1989 I was working with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment, a.k.a. the Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment (the famous “Berks and Wilts”) when The Wall came down. Everyone was totally amazed, incredulous. The general feeling was none of us expected to ever see that thing come down without a shot being fired.
Fast forward to Bosnia, mid-nineties: I was entertaining my counterpart, Lt. Col. Leonid K_______ of the Ukrainian Army. I asked him where he was from, he replied; Odessa. I proceeded to lay out a map of Odessa with a pen and paper. I drew the esplanade, from the north where the Black Sea fleet was docked to the sand cliffs to the south, the east-west running main avenue where it went up past the Railway Station, I sketched in the rail lines came in from the north to the coal depots by the power plant. Leonid stared at what I was doing, and asked, “You have been to my country?”
“No, never,” I replied.
I shrugged and said that he knew what I was – “Spetznaz Amerikanski” – American Special Forces. I told him that if the balloon had ever gone up, I had a one-way ticket to his country.
Then he realized what I was saying – if the balloon had ever gone up, we would have both been hamburger.
And one more thing: America still IS the best country to live in, and it WILL be, for centuries to come, unless we continue on this path of giving it all away, and letting the illegals swarm in and infest.
I know – I’ve lived in more countries than most people visit in a lifetime; and a lot of those countries had great potential, only to be wasted by their own political leadership.
The smartest guy in Eastern Europe - making a break for it . . .