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A West German man used a hammer and chisel to chip off a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Thirty years ago today German men and women used axes, hammers and their bare hands to tear down the Berlin Wall. The 96-mile concrete barrier that had divided the city of Berlin for nearly three decades stood as a physical embodiment of the Iron Curtain. The wall’s destruction was met with joy, as East Germans streamed across the border into freedom. Its collapse signaled the end of communist rule for millions of Eastern Europeans and the eventual reunification of a divided Germany. Although the Cold War ended peacefully, hopes that the dissolution of the Soviet Union two years later would spell the end of communism across the world were never realized. One in 5 people still live under totalitarian dictatorships, and communism is again on the march globally. But today, we salute the incredible men and women who defied the East German government to stand up to oppression and tear down that despised barrier.

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Speaking of defying oppression — happy birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps. On Nov. 10, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned Capt. Samuel Nicholas to raise two battalions of Marines. Nicholas set up his recruiting station that same day in Tun Tavern, Philadelphia. With the enticement of free ale and steady pay, his required quota was soon met. And now, just in time to celebrate the Corps’ 244th anniversary, Marine Corps leadership has relented on the service’s 200-year ban on carrying umbrellas in uniform. The change, announced Thursday in a servicewide message, reads: “Marines can carry an all-black, plain, standard or collapsible umbrella at their option during inclement weather with the service and dress uniforms.” The move is a good one. The cost of dry-cleaning a dress uniform can be expensive to someone living on a private’s limited salary. And, while some claim that carrying an umbrella makes a Marine look weak, we firmly believe a dry Devil Dog with umbrella in hand looks far more professional than one in a drenched uniform with dripping hair.

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Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. On Monday, we will devote our Opinion pages to honor those who have served. We also would like to remind our readers that on Monday the Virginia War Memorial will host The Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony, beginning at 10:45 a.m. The War Memorial is located at 621 Belvidere Street in Richmond. Patriotic music will be provided by the Army’s Training and Doctrination Command’s band from Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The ceremony, which includes a keynote address by Gov. Ralph Northam, will be held outdoors in the E. Bruce Heilman Amphitheater on the War Memorial grounds. The ceremony is free and open to the public. Parking is limited, so arrive as early as possible for the event. Parking will be available in the VHDA surface lot and parking deck next door to the memorial.

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We send our heartiest congratulations to RTD reporter and columnist Bill Lohmann. On Sunday, the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will present Lohmann with the 2019 George Mason Award for his contributions to journalism in Virginia. We couldn’t think of a better recipient for the 55-year-old award. As chapter President Jeff South said of Lohmann, “At a time when so many writers go for snark, he writes stories that are touching, poignant and genuine — stories that provide teachable moments for his readers.” South added, “His stories give readers a deep insight into the breadth of Virginia: its history, its culture and its people. So when the awards committee looked at the various nominations, the packet for Bill really stood out as the one we really wanted to honor this year.”

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Perhaps next year we can toast Lohmann with a nice space-aged Bordeaux. On Monday, a case of the red wine arrived at the International Space Station. The wine will spend the next year in orbit and then be sent back and compared to a second case of the same wine that will be cellared on earth. Launched from Virginia’s own Wallops Island, the vino arrived in a Northrop Grumman cargo delivery along with several other items, including an oven and the ingredients to bake chocolate chip cookies. Good wine and chocolate chip cookies? Space exploration is becoming more enticing all the time.

— Robin Beres

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