Writer: We can't be building walls at home

I remember the Berlin Wall. I was there in 1966. At that time the wall was not complete. There were many vacant buildings that had the street level windows boarded up. A few top windows were open with East German guards within them.

I remember one of their guards pointing his rifle at me, but I shot him with my camera as he withdrew into the shadows. The building in East Berlin looked old and grey while the buildings west of the wall looked modern and prosperous.

That wall existed to keep the citizens of the East in and to prevent western influence. I saw flowers on the street where East Germans were killed by the guards as they jumped over the wall or would dig under it. The worse thing about the East Germans were not that they were only communist but they were also authoritarian.

As a veteran I know that our American armed forces have been fighting against authoritarian governments for decades like the right-wing governments in World War II and the communist North Korean government during the Korean War.

This week is special to me because of Veterans Day and the congressional hearings to explore how authoritarian our government has become. I am a proud American who knows that American culture is represented by our common bonds like baseball, apple pie and Rock & Roll music. But our culture is strongest when we allow our diversity to be our strength and when we share our democratic idealism fairly with other nations without the exploitation of them.

We are an ethical people who do not want to wall off ourselves to become a closed minded people. We do not identify our patriotism as complete loyalty and obedience to one leader like the East Germans, the Nazis or the North Koreans. The wall that came down 30 years ago should not be replaced by us building up a new wall to isolate ourselves from our allies and to close off ourselves from defending ourselves against those who wish to harm us like the Russians or the right-wing authoritarian movements of today.



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