“Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky…
Ninety-nine red balloons go by.”
– Nena, 99 Red Balloons
Yesterday afternoon as we begin to walk towards Brandenburg Tor, we notice a big crowd of people taking pictures. Someone important is coming out of the hotel. Before I can get my camera out, he has already waved hello to the crowd and is whisked away in a black car. We realize it was the former President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War in 1989. From the loud applause, I can tell there is great admiration beyond words. Without him, Berlin wouldn’t be as we know it.
Since I couldn’t capture a picture of the man himself, I took pictures of the people taking pictures. And of course, behind them is the Brandenburg Tor – where many famous speeches have been made. In 1987, former United States President, Ronald Reagan, most notably stated the famous line here, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down these walls.” It took two years from that moment before the walls came down, but of course, we know it finally did.
Thousands of people gather. Live entertainment on stage includes break dancing (has it come back in style?), musicians that sing reminiscent of Dido’s smooth style and an animated story told in German. Cameras pop up among the crowd with thousands of “selfies”, I’m sure. Outdoor grilled bratwurst, currywurst and marinated chicken in brötchen. Hot chocolate. Hot coffee. Cold beer. It is celebrated the German way.
It is cold out but with hot chocolate in hand, it is a beautiful way to walk around and see people celebrate 25 years of united freedom.
I ask Karina if she’s heard the song, 99 Red Balloons or 99 Luftballons by Nena. She shakes her head. We rush home to introduce her to the awesome music of the eighties.