I have a Thanksgiving story for your consumption that has nothing to do with turkeys or pumpkin pie or crazy uncles.
Instead, in an effort to remind you what this holiday can really stand for, we’ll meet some people who are thankful today for simply being free.
It’s a short story today, but an especially touching one, so follow along and we’ll take a little hop across the Atlantic for a trip you should not miss.
It is 20 years now since a series of events began in Europe that culminated in the fall of the Soviet Union and the dictatorial governments in numerous other neighboring countries, and the European Commission has produced a series of eleven three-minute films to mark the occasion.
Each is particular to one country, and each tells personal stories from people who were on the ground at the time…and each will help you fill out a history that today might not extend further then the memory of what happened over the course of a few evenings at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.
Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were the first to declare their freedom, but before that occurred each had organized unique protests, including one that involved all three countries.
Estonia’s film describes how environmentalists were at the forefront of revolution; in a time when writing about environmental pollution could get you arrested, Rein Sikk and Raivo Riim did it anyway.
Latvia’s “Singing Revolution” is chronicled in the words of attorney Romualds Razuks, who swears the birth of his daughter united the re-emerging nation…which, in my opinion, is a lot of pressure to put on a little girl.
Lithuanians, in an homage to Hands Across America, gathered 2.1 million people, in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, to hold hands as a form of protest one afternoon. “The Baltic Way” is described to us by social scientist Dr. Aldona Pocienè and sculptor Vladas Vildžinus.
Two border guards, one Hungarian and one Austrian, recount a day when they allowed 120 men, women, and children heading for a picnic in Austria to cross their checkpoint just ahead of the Hungarian Army, who had orders to shoot border crossers.
Hana Bosková and Jirí Hollan were on Prague’s Národní Avenue November 17th, 1989, the day armored vehicles tried, literally, to crush a crowd of protesters-and a revolution. Eventually both became citizens of the Czech Republic following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia as a nation.
Two days later, in what is today Bratislava, Slovakia, people took to the streets; although the revolution was successful in removing the Government in place at the time, there are those who are still learning the lessons of how hard it is to be free.
“…Now we try to deserve the democracy and the love we create…”
I promised a short story today, so I’ll point you to just one more little holiday clip-and its mine. Over the weekend, I ran into a car with, shall we say…remarkable…decorations, as you can see from the video…
…and who doesn’t feel thankful for fun?
So that’s it for today: enjoy the holiday ahead, don’t scorch the marshmallows, and when the talk gets around to “what are you thankful for…?” you can answer with: “I’ll do you one better…here’s what a whole continent’s thankful for”.
After the holiday we have a lot of new ground to cover, and not much time; our weekend homework will be a conversation about unusual metals and the American economy…and how, just like oil, one will come to a dead stop without the other.