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30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Harding University recalls history with stunning exhibit

An exhibit on display on Harding University's campus allowed students to experience the night the world changed forever.

SEARCY, Ark. — A unified Europe celebrated on Saturday 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall— but the celebration happened all over the world, including here in Arkansas. 

Harding University honored the occasion on campus with an exhibit. 

An employee in the history department at Harding saw an exhibit in Memphis a couple of years ago and decided to bring it to campus for the 30th anniversary. 

Dr. Laurie Diles, Chair of Department of Communication at Harding University, said it's a good way for students to experience this pivotal part of history. 

"It actually changed the face of the world," she said. 

It was Nov. 9, 1989, a date in the history books that Diles said marks the end of a painful period of history. 

"Before the wall came down, the world was divided into two halves and each half didn't really know about the other," she said. 

It was a tangible symbol of the Cold War; splitting up communists from capitalists. 

"It's hard to imagine how quickly history can change, one way or another. The wall went up quickly and the wall came down quickly," Diles said. 

The destruction of this barrier defining independence that was lost for so long.

"When it came down the dominos fell and walls opened up for everybody," she said. 

Diles said administrators at Harding University wanted to give their students a chance to meditate on what once was. 

"We take for granted that we have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to come and go and travel when we want to and where we want to," she said. 

A 10-foot section of the original wall— a symbol of those freedoms— was displayed for a month on campus in the Benson Auditorium lobby, Diles said.

"We wanted them to be aware of this part of history and make the connections to the world we live in that things can change."

Pictures all around the wall demonstrate the whole story from the building to the demolition to every president in between. 

Diles said the exhibit has raised a curiosity in students' minds. 

"One of the things that's surprising us is how little they know about the wall and the Cold War because it was before they were born," she said. 

Now, 30 years later, the younger generation got the chance to grasp the night the world changed forever. 

"It definitely opens up many opportunities to talk about what they can do with their lives, what happened in the past, what the future can be about," Diles said. 

Administrators said they want to continue to engage students like this with different aspects of history, whether local, national or international. 

Saturday, Nov. 9, was the last day of the exhibit.