We celebrate V-E day, May 8, that memorable day when, after six years of blood, sweat, and tears, Germany surrendered to the Allies in 1945.
We celebrate V-J day, August 15, that memorable day when, after four years of bloodshed in almost every part of Asia, Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945.
We celebrate July 4 and the French celebrate their national holiday, July 14, Bastille Day. So why not celebrate World Freedom day—V-F day—November 9 as an international holiday? For it was on that day ten years ago that the Berlin Wall came down, signaling the defeat of Soviet communism and the liberation of Europe’s captive nations.
“What will probably prove to be the most important historical event of our lifetime,” wrote Dinesh D’Souza, “has already occurred. We are unlikely to live through anything else of comparable significance.”
A proposal for such a commemorative day was endorsed by an august body of European and American intellectuals and politicians this June in Rome at an international conference sponsored by Fondation Europe Liberté. The group met to analyze the aftermath of the Soviet empire.
Participating in this event was a high-powered Russian delegation, including former prime minister Yegor Gaidar, Arkadi Vaksberg, Alexander Yakovlev, Vadim Zagladin (representing Mikhail Gorbachev), and the exiled dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. The indomitable Lech Walesa was there. American delegates included Jack Kemp, Lee Edwards, Robert Conquest, Michael Novak, Richard Pipes, Norman Birnbaum, and Paul Goble.
America’s mainstream historians are at work to ensure that future generations will never know anything about that day in 1987 when Ronald Reagan stood among the towering pillars of the Brandenburg Gate and in a ringing apostrophe, declaimed, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
Who, listening to that speech, would have bet the farm that the Berlin Wall would come down two-and-a-half years later? Who could have believed it would come down without a shot fired, no one machine-gunned? Who could have believed the unification of Germany could come so peacefully, inspired by the will of a freedom-hungry people? (Three decades earlier Raymond Aron had written that “Western Europe will not enjoy security until the partition of Germany and the Continent is abolished.”)
November 9 should be celebrated the world over as a day of hope for mankind.
The day the wall came down—November 9—should be remembered as the most significant date of the twentieth century; it should be celebrated the world over as a day of hope for mankind, especially the part of mankind that still lives under dictatorships, be they military (Burma, Iraq), theocratic (Iran), or totalitarian (China, Cuba). When so many elites and opinion makers in this country during the 1980s were condemning President Reagan for his frank rhetoric about “the evil empire,” and bemoaning America’s rearmament program, it turned out that one of the greatest victories for human freedom began on Mr. Reagan’s watch without bombing sorties, ground troops, or body bags. Just words and a big stick against an evil empire with a globe-threatening global arsenal.
It’s time to proclaim November 9 as World Freedom day—V-F day.