It's in the general vicinity of my day job, standing there since 2014, becoming so much a part of the landscape that it seems almost innocuous in banality.
A portion of the Berlin Wall, situated before Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade College in Downtown Miami, Florida; gifted to it by Germany to commemorate the then-25th anniversary of the fall of the wall. It's most appropriate that it was presented to this institution of learning.
It's a piece of History (capitalization intentional). It's an indictment of modernity.
This relatively small piece of concrete separated East Berlin from West for three decades; the physical embodiment of an ideological divide, and an inorganic symbol of misery.
It's a testament to the suffering of families and loved ones forever separated. It further serves as tombstone for countless lives lost in attempting to scale its walls...seeking escape and freedom; to allow for unfettered expression of the human spirit in the face of oppression.
The graffiti is original, and what is graffiti but history's tattoos? It represents the thoughts, ideas and, most importantly, feelings of that cultural zeitgeist; resistance in the face of persecution. Proof that in the shadow of tyranny, hope and defiance could be etched in proverbial ink.
For those of us who lived up until the time it came crashing down, it's regrettably hard to fathom that it's full significance would be lost to those who were born around the time of, or after, its collapse. Writer/philosopher George Santayana was purportedly the first individual to utter the practically axiomatic quote "[t]hose who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." That sentiment has never been more appropriate than now.
We're still haunted...persecuted...bedeviled by bigotry, hatred and division in a country that should honestly know better. Land of the free and home of the brave, so long as one meets the small, confining racial, socio-economic criteria; especially in the state wherein I reside.
This is another section of the Berlin Wall. It resides in Orlando, Florida...
...behind a pop-culture-themed restaurant...
...in a theme park complex.
Note the lack of graffiti. Though uncorroborated, it's rumored that a groundskeeper (whether ignorant of history or simply uninformed) mistook the art for vandalism and had it pressured cleaned; "sanitized" to an almost pristine, modulus finish.***
In other words...whitewashed.
A blank canvas, saying nothing of the history once embedded in the stone of the pain...the anguish...the unmitigated evil and destructiveness inherent in it. To the point where even our own institutions of learning are undergoing their own whitewashing prevalent not only in our culture but that of the world.
One cannot look upon this without realizing both the irony and the appropriateness of its current condition and the circumstances behind it. There are certain government officials and special interest groups that would rather whitewash history and prevent our fully understanding it...from learning from it, for their ideological and financial benefit. The banning of literature, the obfuscation of scientific fact and theory, the denial of the existence of race theory, the oppression of alternative expressions of affection between human beings...our teachers metaphorically handcuffed to the point of insufficiency and ineffectiveness...it's as if Florida is becoming more of a Red state than it collectively realizes.
I pass by a monument daily, now part of the everyday landscape. It's part of the background. A simple piece of stone that says so much if one only pauses to "hear" it and heed its warning.
History is not something to which we pick and choose. History simply is. If we are to learn from history and hopefully apply its lessons in the future, it must be acknowledged. That is ultimately why a section was gifted to an institution of learning.
It's a piece of History. It's an indictment of modernity. That indictment being:
...we haven't learned a goddamn thing.
***If I'm incorrect in my facts, a sectional retraction will be published.