Some students rush by the slab of concrete near Kennesaw State University's social
sciences building without stopping to take a look.
Those who notice the nearly 10 feet tall pillar lean in for a closer look. They inspect
the pockmarks and overlapping graffiti, which include a vibrant yellow smiling sun.
Some take pictures of themselves standing next to the giant piece of wall and post
them on Facebook.
The students know the 2.7 ton structure is a piece of the Berlin Wall, which for more
than 25 years kept East Germans from fleeing to the West. But some struggle to explain
"I don't know the meaning of all of it," freshman Taylor Zorzi, 19, said. "I know
it is historical and deals with life after World War II. And I do know that it's cool
that we have it on campus."
Former State Senator Chuck Clay loaned the structure to Kennesaw State, which placed
it at its current spot a few months ago. A plaque nearby explains the wall's importance
and how it came to arrive at the north Cobb university.
Clay received the slab about seven years ago during a trip to Germany. It was a gift
to honor his grandfather, Gen. Lucius D. Clay of Marietta, who commanded American
forces in Europe after World War II and organized the Berlin airlift.
"I like the idea that people who are studying history can see this piece of history
and put their hands on it," Clay said. "I want people to understand that this wall,
which they can see is just a few inches thick, divided and isolated people. It reminds
people of what tyranny looks like."
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which symbolized
the boundary between democracy and communism during the Cold War. On Nov. 9, 1989,
after weeks of civil unrest, the East German government allowed its citizens to enter
West Berlin. Crowds climbed the wall and people on both sides tore it down over the
next few weeks.
Many college students weren't born when the wall tumbled.
"I know it is historically important but it is not hugely significant in my life,"
freshman Lee Price said. Still, the 18-year-old correctly said that the wall "symbolizes
the fall of communism, I suppose."
Junior Mary Block studied the Berlin Wall and saw pictures and video of people knocking
it down. She knew its fall allowed for German reunification.
"The story of how people knocked it down is really inspirational," Block, 21, said
as she gazed at the piece. "When I look at it I see revolution and change and people
standing up and coming together."
Junior Ashley Cortez said students who are familiar with the wall point it out to
"At first you may not really pay that much attention to it, but once you realize what
it is and really come to understand what it means you understand how powerful it is,"
the 20-year-old said. "It makes you want to learn more."