Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Die Wiedervereinigung

There are two great national events that I've always felt a special connection to even though I didn't really get to experience them firsthand. The events are the American Bicentennial and German Reunification, and the reason I feel connected to both of them is largely due to my birthday. I was born in 1976 and I have always kind of taken pride in that, even though most of the bicentennial celebrations were probably over by the time I was born and even if they hadn't been, I was too young to know what was going on. The German Reunification, which happened 16 years ago today, coincided with my 14th birthday. I had just begun my study of the German language about a month earlier. The whole sequence of events that led up to the reunification of Germany was probably the most historically significant thing that had happened in my life up to that point, so the reunification seemed a lot more important to me then it probably would today.

As far as I know, no formerly divided nations reunited today and America did not pull out all of the stops for a year-long nationwide celebration of our 230th year of independence. The second digit of my odometer did turn over for the third time, however. I've been feigning horror over the prospect of leaving my 20's behind for the past few weeks, but my heart really hasn't been in it. I have neither dreaded turning 30 nor have I felt the need to take stock of what I have and have not managed to accomplish up to this point. Age is not as important as it used to be, anyway. While visiting reunified Germany a couple of years ago, I was kind of bummed that I never did the whole backpack through Europe thing when I was in college. Checking in for our flight back to the US, I saw a couple who looked to be in their 40s or 50s standing in line with their packs. More and more, youth is no longer wasted on the young. I didn't manage to experience everything that I wanted to experience in my 20s, but I think I did most of the things that I felt were really important.

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