The Wall: Trump's planned edifice and its role in history


the wall

El Paso, Texas - So our new president, Donald Trump, wants to erect a wall to keep those doggone Hispanics from pouring over the border. This wall is estimated to be in the billions of dollars cost-wise and our esteemed leader wants Mexico to pay for it (good luck with that, by the way).

I’m sure “The Donald” doesn’t care that he’s pissed off the Muslims or our friends south of the border, but just for giggles we thought we would look at other efforts throughout history to construct walls and how that worked out.

Of course, the best known wall of all has to be The Great Wall Of China, constructed in the 1300s to keep nomadic invaders at bay. Stretching for 8,850 kilometers, the Great Wall is the largest manmade barrier ever undertaken.

Considered one of the most recognized structures in the world, it is looked upon as one of the great engineering feats in history.

Then, of course, there was the Berlin Wall in Germany—not something The Donald wants his wall compared with, I’m sure. Built in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, it split Berlin in two, separating East Germany from the west. When the Soviet Union fell in 1989, President Ronald Reagan offered his famous quote, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” When the wall fell, it became one of Germany’s biggest tourist attractions.

There are other walls as well. Some you might know about, others are certainly more obscure. Most were built for defensive purposes. Hadrian’s Wall in England was constructed by the Romans to protect Britannia from hostile Scottish tribes and stretches 73 miles from one side of the British Isle to the other.

The second largest wall in Europe, The Walls of Ston, Croatia, were thrown up in the 15th century. The wall was built in Dubrovnik for its defense, winding its way more than 5.5 kilometers and boasted 40 towers with five fortresses contained within.

Probably one of the oldest walls still standing today would be the Walls of Troy in Turkey, built in the 13th century BC to protect the legendary city of Troy. This wall famously withstood the decade-long siege of the city.

If you want to go back into Biblical times, there are the famous Walls of Babylon in ancient Mesopotamia, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad. Dating back as far as 575 BC, the Ishtar Gate was considered as one of the wonders of the ancient world.

In Sacsayhuaman, Peru there is a walled complex on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire. Polished dry stone walls, carefully cut to fit together perfectly without the aid of mortar can be found at an altitude of 3,701 meters.

Then, of course, there is the famous Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, also known as the Western Wall. A tremendously important Jewish religious site, the wall dates from the end of the Second Temple period, being constructed around 19 BC by Herod the Great. The wall actually was the western wall of the temple. In Judaism, the Western Wall is venerated as the sole remnant of the Holy Temple, making it the holiest place for Jewish people, the most visited site in Jerusalem and perhaps the most visited attraction in all of Israel.

The only other wall I can think of to include in this menagerie is one I am almost reluctant to bring up, because it holds such an enormous respect for those of us who lived through the Vietnam era. Often called “The Wall,” the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC bears the names of more than 58,000 soldiers who died during that conflict. It holds such a place of eminence among those who lost friends and family in that war, to place it upon this list seems almost disrespectful.

But of all the walls included in this list, it is perhaps the most important.

It is not a wall built to keep anyone out, but to honor those who died to help preserve freedom. The names of many families, all of whom came from the melting pot that is America, sons and daughters of immigrants, many of them, have their own silent lessons to teach us about inclusiveness.

Perhaps if our president were to ponder his own German and Scottish ancestry, he would realize that he, too, is the son of immigrants and would be less enthusiastic about drawing his very expensive and silly line in the sand.

Contact Joseph Norris at

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