Monday, July 5, 2010

Wanna take a field trip? How about touching the Berlin Wall...via Fulton

Fulton, Missouri?  Where the heck is that?

13 miles southeast of Columbia, MO which is is about smack in the middle of the state.
Home of the Missouri RYLA Rotary Academy.
Home of the one of the top collegiate horsemanship programs in the world.
A place you really can't get a good hot sit-down breakfast.

And home to 8 sections of THE Berlin Wall.


Fulton is a sleepy little town of 14,000 but the home of not just one, but two universities.  Nope, it doesn't make sense to me either.  However, it is working for them.

In 1946, one of those universities decided to give Sir Winston Churchhill himself an honorary degree.  And since he had helped end the world war and had a little spare time on his hands, he decided to come to Missouri to accept it in person. 

While there, he gave a speech, which is considered THE historical event.  Ever hear of the "Iron Curtain"?  That is a phrase that Winston coined himself and used it for the first recorded time while in Fulton, probably when he was looking around for a great place to have a sit down breakfast like I was last week (Winston:  Drats, there is no where to eat breakfast in this town.  I feel like I have hit an "iron curtain."  Hey, that is good. I should use it in my speech tomorrow....)  It probably went something like that....:)

The "Iron Curtain" he was referring to was none other than the Berlin Wall.

In 1969, the university decided to create a historical museum and libary in honor of Winston.  I guess they were worried his spirit would be lonely in mid-west America, so they brought over the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a 12th century church from the middle of London, redesigned by Sir Christopher Wren in 1677.  Yep, a 400 year old church from England is sitting in Fulton right now.

taken by the Girl

There is also a small English garden next to the church.

This is Patty, the presentor from the United Nations
I met in March who came to observe RYLA. 

Back to the wall.
After the Berlin Wall was conquered, 8 slabs of it were
brought to Fulton.  There was a big party.
Big wigs like Reagan and Gorbachev came.

Someone asked me if these were bullet holes or cement pits.
Honestly, I don't know.

It has been touched by so many people that the concrete, even
on the edge pieces are worn smooth.
There is something instinctive that makes you
want to rip it apart with just your bare hands.

The slabs are numbered, because that is the Germans for you.
All about organization and order.
I was once asked by someone if I had German ancestry.
"Why yes," I said.  They then went on to say that
organization and order is a
strong character trait of the German people.
I don't know if I would be all about order if I were
out to destroy and control entire races of folks...
Sounds tiring.  And very rude.
The wall slabs have small spaces in between them.
Can you imagine if all  you had was this crack
to look out for 50 years?

To conclude with today's history lesson:
What two things do these folks have in common?

1)  Other world leaders who have followed in Churchill's footsteps
and journeyed here to speak at the Museum:
 Presidents Reagan, Ford, and Bush;
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher;
Polish President Lech Walesa; and
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev who, fittingly,
gave a speech announcing the end of the Cold War
and marking the fall
of what Churchill had named, "The Iron Curtain."

2) A bunch of folks who couldn't get a
good hot breakfast during their stay.