Friday, September 23, 2016

South Dakota Trip - A Secret in Rapid City

I had wanted to surprise my wife with something cool while on our South Dakota Trip, and I found it in a city park in Rapid City.  The Berlin Wall.

Yes, that Berlin Wall.  There are 2 sections of the Berlin Wall just across from the Rapid City High School in Memorial Park, plus signs explaining the wall, how it got to be and how it got to un-be.
Also there are 2 tank traps, iron girders welded to be dangerous to tanks.  These wall panels stand 13 1/2 feet tall, are covered with a round cement pipe to prevent hand-holds, have rebar inside every 4 inches, are 6 inches thick, weigh 4 tons each, and self-stand.  They lined the West German side of the 50 meter wide (164 feet) no mans land border where many terrible things happened during my life.
Installed in 1961, these 2 cement wall segments came from the Berlin Wall section between the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie.  They were taken down in 1989.  "Mr. Gorbachev, Take down this wall."

The story I read told about businessmen from Rapid City happened to be in Berlin in 1989 and bought the two wall sections and tank traps to bring home to their democratic home, next to Mount Rushmore. Their thought was right with the times, and the over 8 ton pair of walls and traps were shipped to Rapid City.  The Berlin Wall portion of Memorial Park was dedicated in 1996.
The wall sections are surrounded by signs that tell the story.  I show them all here so you can read them.

The Berlin Wall was a strong presence during my life, one that signified the barrier between light and darkness, prisoners and freedom, us and them, democracy and communism.  I remember the story of an 18 year old trying to get out of communist Germany, who was shot while crossing the no mans land on the East German/Communism side of the wall who was left screaming for hours as he died. No one from West Germany dared to help him as they would be killed for trying to.  That painful act really sticks in my memory.
Memorial Park used to be city neighborhood in Rapid City and was created after a huge flood in 1972 where 238 people died.
And yes, my wife was surprised and quite pleased.
To get there, go to Rapid City, South Dakota.  Memorial Park is located on Mount Rushmore Road and is just north of Omaha Street near I-90.

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