Sunday, November 18, 2001

On Nov. 9, with far too little fanfare, President Bush issued a proclamation making that day World Freedom Day. It was the right and proper thing to do, and Mr. Bush deserves great credit for recognizing the day’s significance even if the announcement was made without due fanfare and never made the smallest blip on the media’s radar screen. Nov. 9 deserves to remain etched in world history. It was the day the Berlin Wall fell, the day communism was cut to the quick. Even so, as the president stated in his declaration, the fall of communism did not mark the end of authoritarianism and totalitarianism.
“Today, freedom is under attack again,” Mr. Bush said. “Like the fascists and totalitarians before them, al Qaeda, the Taliban regime that supports them, and other terrorist groups across the world seek to impose their radical views through threats and violence.
“The fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, stands as the turning point of the Cold War and a significant landmark in freedom’s separation of free people and those living under dictatorships. We honor the spirit and perseverance of those who strived for freedom in East Germany and under other repressive regimes … We celebrate the new freedom in which much of the world lives today.”
It took a full 10 years from the inception of the idea of World Freedom Day to last week’s proclamation. The idea was first proposed and has since been forcefully advocated by Arnold Beichman, a columnist for The Washington Times. The seed was laid in a column that ran on the op-ed page of this newspaper on Nov. 9, 1991, two years after the historic events in Germany.
In a column titled, “A holiday for world freedom?” Mr. Beichman wrote:
“As I watched the dedication of the Ronald Reagan library last Monday on a windswept mountaintop in California’s Simi Valley, I wondered why we weren’t celebrating at the same moment one of the most astounding bloodless victories over tyranny in world history. Yet we were not celebrating that victory, one which has changed all our lives to a degree that cannot yet be fully comprehended …
“The fall of communism and the end of the Cold War didn’t come under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford or Carter. It happened under Mr. Reagan not overnight but by a campaign of steady resistance that included Angola, Grenada, SDI, Central America, Libya. It was a campaign that included an arms program that had amplitude and, consequently, credibility…
“In one of his speeches Mr. Reagan pleaded with President Mikhail Gorbachev by name to tear down the Berlin Wall. That wall symbolized the Cold War as nothing else did. Suddenly, unexpectedly, on Nov. 9, 1989, the wall came down. The day the wall came down is the day that should be declared an international holiday… .
“Nov. 9 from this day forward should be a day for world observance. In years to come we will realize that the man whose policies made that victory possible was Ronald Reagan…
“Let us remember that this victory came without bloodshed, without marching armies, without loss of life, without nuclear fallout. Unprecedented in modern times, victor and vanquished together have acclaimed the end of the Cold War. Everybody won. Celebrating Nov. 9 each year would be a warning to future tyrants that tyranny, whether military as in Burma or ideological as in China and Cuba, has no future.”
Today, the tyrants who ruled Afghanistan and the terrorists who plotted the attacks against the United States on September 11are learning that same lesson.

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