I was eleven years old.
The extent of my political knowledge was that I had been vaguely disappointed when Bush defeated Dukakis in the presidential election the previous year. I lived in a dilapidated blue-collar neighborhood, so there was a pervasive anti-Republican sentiment that I simply accepted without further thought. I also remember being occasionally worried that we might be nuked by the Russians, but beyond that, I had no awareness of or concern about international politics.
Yet there I sat, on my knees in front of the living room television, crying.
I knew very little about World War II, except that the Nazis were evil and had tried to kill all the Jews. I'm pretty sure that I thought the United States entered the war to save the Jews. I knew that Berlin was in Germany, I had become increasingly aware of the existence of a wall there, but I basically had no intellectual understanding of what was happening.
But I understood perfectly. I understood in the core of my being; the way an infant understands music. It was raw and pure. I sat there alone, with no adult explaining to me exactly what was happening. With tears streaming down my face, I watched as jubilant strangers on the other side of the planet tore down a once insurmountable wall with hammers and their bare hands. I watched people from one side of a wall putting their arms around people from the other side; and we all cried together.
At the completely ignorant age of eleven, I acutely appreciated that I may never witness another such moment in history.
And here I sit, my own children almost exactly the same age I was on the day we were all Berliners; but on this day, we are all Egyptians.
What a beautiful day to be alive.
Thank you people of Egypt; and may you continue to be a light of peace and justice to your region and the world.