One of the prize artifacts of the Museum is a section of the Berlin Wall, given to Canada in 1991 after the government hosted a meeting of foreign ministers from various countries to sort out the reunification of Germany. The graffiti tags are from the West Berlin side. The East Berlin side is blank. What always strikes me about it is how thin it is.
The Fall of the Wall is one of those momentous times of history. During the extraordinary fall of 1989 when so much was happening, this episode seemed to reflect hope and possibility: the end of the Cold War.
The first President Bush and Soviet president Gorbachev were able to bring things to a close, and Bush spoke of a new world order: freedom, justice, and peace.
Things didn't quite turn out that way.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein sent Iraqi forces into the neighbouring Kuwait in a full scale invasion and land grab. Bush skillfully built a multi-national coalition to push back the invasion and liberate Kuwait. The result was the Persian Gulf War, with Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In my opinion, it was a justified war, and one that was carried out nearly perfectly. In hindsight, it probably would have been better to have taken out Hussein back then, but as they say, hindsight is 2020.
Canadian forces were part of that coalition, primarily naval and air assets.
Canadian fighters flew out of a base in Qatar. They brought a crest back from the Gulf War with their signatures on it. It's displayed here.
In my section on the Korean War, I mentioned Ted Zuber, who painted his vivid memories of fighting there into paintings. He went to the Gulf as a commissioned war artist and painted more, embedded with Canadian forces. This is Night Run.
Another artifact of the time: a sign post from the Qatar base bearing the home towns of Canadians.
Canadians would have other missions as the 1990s went on. The darkest one would be in Rwanda, where Canadians were embedded as peacekeepers, and where a Canadian general in charge of the operation would be ignored by the UN, and could only bear witness to genocide.