Sunday, November 01, 2009


By CATHARINE SCHAIDLE


OF THE JOURNAL STAR


Posted Nov 01, 2009 @ 07:36 PM
EUREKA —

Many traditional students at Eureka College were not born when the Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago.

Yet, they will participate in ceremonies to mark its fall, which historians say was the catalyst for the end of the Cold War and, ultimately, the Soviet Union.

Eureka College alumnus Ronald Reagan stood beside the Bradenburg Gate as president of the United States in 1987 and told his Soviet counterpart, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

It didn't happen right away, but on Nov. 9, 1989, the wall, erected as a symbol of the Cold War to separate East and West Germany, symbolically fell after 28 years, allowing the two countries to fully reunite the following year.

"The idea of a college campus connected with a principal figure in bringing an end to the Cold War, celebrating that event is great, because it crosses the generations. It gives access to everybody in the area," said John Morris, director of the Ronald W. Reagan Society at Eureka College.

On Nov. 9, various ceremonies will take place at Eureka College to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that event. The college received a 5-by-4-foot section of the Berlin Wall as a gift from Germany in 2000 when the college dedicated the peace garden. President Reagan graduated from the college in 1932.

Weather permitting, students will parade carrying the flags of the more than 20 countries that became democracies at the end of the Cold War, Morris said.

At a symposium that day to discuss the collapse of communism in former Eastern Bloc nations will be Gen. Paul X. Kelley, Commandant of the U.S. Marines from 1983 to 1987; Hans-Ulrich von Schroeter, deputy director of the German Information Center USA at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.; and Harold Fritz of Peoria, who received the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War.

Cathy Downing, wife of the late Gen. Wayne Downing, has also been invited, Morris said.

"While we are calling it the fall of the wall, we are also celebrating the freedom of 24 nations behind the Iron Curtain, the former Eastern Bloc of Poland, Hungary and former Soviet Republics. So there is an educational aspect for students," Morris said.

The anniversary comes two days before Veterans' Day, an important date in U.S. history.

"We're inviting people who served during the Cold War or any war to attend," he said.



If you go

On Nov. 9, the following ceremonies will take place at Eureka College to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall:

- 4 p.m. A ceremony open to the public will feature flags of the more than 20 countries that became democracies at the end of the Cold War. Speakers are expected to include Gen. Paul X. Kelley, Commandant of the U.S. Marines during the Reagan administration; Hans-Ulrich von Schroeter, deputy director of the German Information Center USA, German embassy in Washington, D.C.; and Harold Fritz of Peoria, who received the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War.

- 6 p.m. Dinner in the Cerf Center will be $20 a person.

- 7:30 p.m. A symposium in the Cerf Center will feature panelists discussing events surrounding the collapse of communism. Cost is $5 for attending the symposium only, or free with dinner tickets.



Catharine Schaidle can be reached at 686-3290 or cschaidle@pjstar.com.