So for us, Cold War military realities were axioms, facts as tangible as a pound of cheese. There was always an unstated feeling of “Sooner or later.” Sooner or later, the bill would come due. Sooner or later, some of our paratrooper neighbours would get dropped into the Fulda Gap to get chewed up by artillery or crushed to red porridge by tank treads. Sooner or later, the classes at our school would be interrupted by sirens, bright light, and about five pounds per square inch of overpressure.
And then suddenly, in a few weeks in the autumn of ’89, some people very far away decided to call off World War Three. Our nightmares got cancelled like a sitcom. When I talk to other Canadians about what happened in 1989 in Romania and Hungary and Germany, they remain impressed by the courage with which the people of the old Warsaw Pact seized their birthright of political freedom. What’s sometimes lacking is the element of personal gratitude — the sense that those rebels gave us something precious while taking liberty for themselves. Well, I was grateful then. And I still am.
Colby Cosh, “My Cold War”, National Post, 2009-11-06
November 6, 2009
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