November 8, 2019
A Fenwick alumnus from the Class of 1971 and U.S. Army veteran reflects on the Cold War, "Freiheit" and the Berlin Wall.
By Tim Fitzpatrick ’71
Tim Fitzpatrick afront East Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate as a Fenwick junior in 1970.
I first visited Berlin in 1970 on a Fenwick High School language trip with Father Nicholas Aschenbrener, O.P. After living through 1960’s Berlin Wall crisis with John. F. Kennedy’s “Ich Bin Ein Berliner Speech” and experiencing the wall in person, I joined the United States Army. I returned as an Infantry officer in 1980 and my twin boys, Tim and Danny, were born in Berlin. I had previously led Cold War staff rides in Berlin for students in the Department of Defense Executive Leadership Development Program NATO deployments. In September 2018, son Danny, one-year-old grandson Asher and Shawna’s parents were able to watch Danny’s wife Shawna complete the Berlin Marathon, which I had done while stationed in Berlin.
The Berlin House of Representatives sponsors the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation, founded in 1994. The foundation runs the Welcome Home program to sponsor U.S. Military veterans to return to Berlin, to share their story with Berlin schools, government and other organizations, and for them to experience Berlin as it has emerged from the Cold War into a very lively city.
I was privileged to be the group leader for nine U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Berlin veterans, representing a good cross-section of America, whose service in Berlin spanned from 1959-1993, greater than the life of the Berlin Wall itself. For each of us, the shared common bond and deep emotions about our service in Berlin, and connection to Berliners caused us to form almost instantly into a tight knit group.
READ MORE OF TIM'S GUEST BLOG