Remembering Berlin Through Art
Some think its the bad part of town. In fact, Westminster conducted some marketing research and found many high schoolers were turned off by the photo of students in front of a graffiti-covered wall.
Rob Havers, the Executive Director of the Churchill Memorial, stated, "In 18 years, the significance of the Berlin Wall has for some people apparently receded which is interesting in its own right."
However, its significance to those in Fulton is still very much apparent. And having a piece of the Berlin Wall in front of the Churchill Memorial makes more sense than you might think.
Kurt Jefferson, who is one of Westminster's professors, explained, "Churchill in his speech here in 1946 talked about an Iron Curtain descending upon Europe."
The Berlin Wall is Churchill's iron curtain.
"It's not just a metaphor," Jefferson said. "But an actual iron curtain that was dividing the democratic west from the communist east."
Another link is Churchill's granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, who turned the ominous wall into art, and was instrumental in bringing it to her grandfather's memorial. Sandys cut out the silhouettes of a man and a woman to signify the passing through of Germans through the Berlin Wall. In an effort to not waste a single piece of the wall, the cutouts now stand at the FDR presidential library in New York.
"Edwina Sandys wanted to create a piece of art that reflected in some way the end of the Cold War," said Havers. "The Cold War that Churchill had so famously prophesized would begin on Westminster's campus in 1946."
Exactly one year after the Berlin Wall came down in Germany, Ronald Reagan dedicated eight sections of it in Fulton. Reagan spoke out and said,
"Ours is a more peaceful planet because of men like Churchill and Truman and countless others who shared their dream where no one wields a sword and no one drags a chain," Reagan said at the time. "This is their monument, in dedicating this magnificent sculpture may we dedicate ourselves to hastening the day when all God's children live in a world without walls."
Reagan was not the only world leader to speak on Westminster's campus. In 1992, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev came to speak in front of the very wall President Reagan so famously implored him to "tear down".
Pat Kirby from Westminster remembered, "When Gorbachev came, they did the lecture out here and there was like 25 thousand people in the street and Gorbachev was up here on a platform. And it was an incredible background to his speech that day."
Another interesting link brings history full circle. The connection between Churchill, Gorbachev and Reagan links history that is important for students and visitors that come to Missouri as well.
Kirby explained, "Here you have maybe a student from Swaziland or from Ghana explaining to the wall to somebody from the United States that the wall came from Germany. It is just a wonderful symbol of the kind of global world that we live in today."
A global world that has many times converged on Westminster's campus.