Today my US friends celebrate Memorial Day. And I hope everyone has a blessed and especially peaceful holiday. Peaceful is especially important, after the dreadful happenings in Portland last Friday. Stabbing people who stood up to protect two teenage girls who haven’t done anything is a vicious crime. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Those men stood up to the values we all should adhere to, tolerance and respect.
Just as vicious where the terror attacks in Manchester, were the suicide bomber deliberately attacked to slaughter innocent children after a concert. As father of two teenagers this is especially agonizing, as I know there is nothing I can do to protect my children (or myself, for that matter) from falling victim to a similar random attack of terrorists.
If there is anything positive from all this terrible events it is that the terrorists don’t succeed in driving a wedge into our modern, open and tolerant societies, despite some of our politicians trying to tell us otherwise.
That there are so many people offering help in the aftermath of terror attacks with shelter, food, transportation to all affected people regardless of nationality or religion is proof enough that we can differentiate very well between what is the work of terrorists and what are just regular people like you and me that happen to come from different nationalities or religious backgrounds and that happen to live with us in open, multicultural societies. Also the actions from the men in Portland are proof of this.
And this brings me to what this post is about. On December 19th a terrorist drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas Market, killing 12 people and injuring 55. This happened on the Breitscheidplatz in the very center of Berlin, where the ruins of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche still stand as a silent memorial to the horrors of World War II. At the steps of the church is the memorial to the victims of this horrendous attack.
When I visited Berlin this past weekend for the German Protestant Church Day I witnessed a fabulous concert at this very same location. It was a joint concert of Genesis Brass, an ensemble of 15 professional brass players, and about a thousand amateur brass players that visited Berlin for the Church Day event. The Breitscheidplatz was filled with joyous music during a beautiful summer evening. Between the musicians and the onlookers the were thousands of people of many nationalities and religions, enjoying the music. Everyone had a good time. I felt is was good and right to fill this place with joy, creating happy memories for all who witnessed. Music is a perfect tool to bring people together.
During the moderation of the concert as well as in the blessings that were given at the end the speakers found prefect words to also pay tribute to the victims of the December attack. And I felt this was needed and just as good and right.
There needs to be grief and remembrance, but we need to stand up and show the terrorists that we stand together as one, regardless of nationality and religion, and that opens ad tolerance will prevail in the end.
For more impressions from that summer evening in Berlin continue after the jump…. (more…)