Sure, you could drive to Fulton, Missouri or to nearby Chicago to see the real thing, but why when there is a perfectly good replica of a piece of the Berlin Wall just off the main drag in Dixon?
The fake bit of Berlin is tucked into the Wings of Peace and Freedom Park, which is located on the corner with a church at one end and a theater along the back. In addition to the wall piece the park boasts a sculpture by a Bulgarian immigrant, Nick Tanev, and three depictions of Ronald Reagan in his presidential dealings with the Soviet Union.
Here is a better view of the three depictions:
Although I’ve read elsewhere that the wall depiction is also the work of Tanev, I saw nothing locally to indicate this is the case. In fact, signage near the sculpture does not mention the replica or the Reagan depictions at the back of the park. On the front (presumably west-facing side) of the wall, three names are in the bottom left: Ashley Barnum, Nancy Barnum, Dave Barnum. The last name is also present on the three-part depiction. Unfortunately, I can find no further mention of those individuals in connection with the replica or the depictions.
The small signage in the middle of the replica does not discuss the origins of the wall, but notes the June 1987 words of Reagan when he said, “… tear down this wall.” It was roughly two years later, in November 1989, after a verbal gaffe from an East Berlin official, that residents of East Berlin began passing somewhat freely through checkpoint gates in the wall. The wall did not begin to be officially dismantled for several more months — although West Berliners were picking and breaking the wall in small chunks as early as December 1989, and new gates were opened in early 1990.
None of this, however, is noted in Dixon. No doubt if Dixon was the only history lesson one had on the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is quite likely that one would believe Reagan’s words alone shattered the 80-some miles of reinforced concrete. This is not to diminish the role that Reagan did play, but just to point out his words were not taken as an immediate call to action.
The back of the wall, as shown above, is also quite interesting. I believe it shows some East Berliner trying to escape while he’s being targeted by a gun-wielding Commie. I’m thinking some of the other marks on the back are a result of vandalism and not the original creative license. At least it appears that some painted words toward the top right side have been white washed and can now barely be read.
At the center of the park is the Tanev sculpture:
Signage at the base of the art discusses how Tanev presented it to Dixon Mayor James Dixon (I kid you not) in 1991 during a “Sister Cities Convocation.” It adds: “The sculpture is an expression of Mr. Tanev’s gratitude to President Ronald Reagan for his part in ending the Cold War. … Mr. Tanev attributed his own success and good fortune to his having left the oppression of Bulgaria for the prosperity and hope he found in the United States of America. The sculpture is for him the very symbol of the joy and triumph he found in the peace and freedom of his adoptive homeland.”