December 1989; Christmas Eve in Bucharest

An excerpt of the second volume of “Pine Trees Break, They Do Not Bend” written by Ion Gavrilă – homage to all those who, in December 1989, had the courage to fight for our freedom.

Meanwhile, shots were heard from all the blocks of flats around the Romanian television headquarters, but none of the people near me was hit and I did not understand what was happening.  Why were they shooting? Was it to maintain a tense atmosphere while they were waiting for reinforcements? It was the only logical explanation that I could think of.

But the young people around me were enthusiastic, and calm. To them, everything seemed to be in order. That was how they had imagined revolution. It’s Christmas Eve. Powdery snow falls from the murky sky, on a street corner some young people start singing a carol, and then others sing another one. Tomorrow is Christmas. I recall that precisely 100 years ago, on the evening of carols, an old teacher passed away while his students were carolling. His name was Ion Creangă[1]. His Moldavians were now carolling in Bucharest, heralding the dawn of a new world. The 40 years of atheist education, when writing or pronouncing Christmas name was banned, had failed to make them forget their soul. It’s evening now and I go down to the subway while these beautiful youth sing their carols. At the subway station young girls are urging people to go to the hospitals and donate blood. I was going back home and I felt happy that God had allowed me to live to see this day. I felt in peace and proud that the face of Romania, our motherland, had been washed clear of any trace of cowardice and despair by the blood of these youth. Those who have no God and no country can continue shooting at Bucharest North Railway Station, targeting the people who depart on Christmas Eve, they can bring hell, blow up the blood collection centre – thousands of people will be ready to replace the lost blood. Communism is doomed, victory is certain.

These were my thoughts back then. I was carried by the same enthusiasm that had engulfed the whole country. Such wonders could have been accomplished by that youthful momentum! And what followed? Cursed be those who, in order to achieve their base ends, have destroyed that wave of enthusiasm, brotherhood and trust in a different future for the Romanian people! Cursed be those who have destroyed the hope of a nation!

[1] Ion Creangă (1837 – 1889) was a Romanian writer, story teller and school teacher. He is best known for his volume Childhood Memories, a collection of autobiographical short stories written with great sense of humour, in the savoury Romanian language spoken in his time in Moldavia province.

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