31 years ago today (1989) I was in Romania, being taken under cover of darkness to the meeting place of a group of women students gathered to study the Bible in secret! As we settled into the back seat the driver turned and whispered, “Miriam, we just heard on Radio Free Europe that the Berlin Wall is coming down!” Shock filled the car! I leaned forward and asked, “Does that give you hope for Romania?” To which he responded, “It’s hard to have hope in this country!” On December 25th, barely 6 weeks later, Ceausescu was executed and Romania was free!
Just over one year ago I stood on Revolution Square in Bucharest where blood was shed. Courageous men and women fought for freedom! Some died! I stood and looked at what was supposed to be the centrepiece of the square, Memorial al Renașterii, the Memorial of Rebirth that honours the victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989. I felt a sense of hopelessness as I looked at the monument that had been erected there to commemorate the 1989 losses—around one thousand lives. The monument features a twenty-five-metre-high pillar reaching to the sky, upon which is impaled a metal “crown.” Its name, Memorial of Rebirth, alludes to the hoped-for rebirth of Romania as a nation after the collapse of Ceausescu’s dictatorship. Described by some as a “potato skewered on a stake” or an “olive on a toothpick,” the controversial monument is now guarded around the clock because it is so often defaced with graffiti. In 2012, the bottom of the metal “crown” was defaced with a splash of bright red paint, so inaccessibly high on the pillar it has never been removed. Perhaps it speaks of blood shed in the name of the fight for freedom.
Remembrance Day tomorrow will be a time of great celebration and gratefulness here in Canada to honour those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy.
I’m also excited to announce that my book has gone to the typesetter. Keep your eyes open for announcement of my soon to go public website AND the arrival of my book “reGeneration: Stories of Resilient Faith in Communist Romania.”