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  • The showcase will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 29

  • Contact CIT's and Beatrice for shuttle information

  • The program will end at 10 a.m. June 30

Can you hear the people sing?

Stephanie Gao, Writer

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Being a great history enthusiast and, in my personal opinion a connoisseur of the obscure, I thought a trip to the Hoover Institution’s newest exhibit “Revolutions in Eastern Europe: The Rise of Democracy, 1989-1990” that opened on March 11th would yield many interesting, albeit heavily biased, results. As I’m not particularly accustomed to America’s special brand of democratic patriotism and heavy flag-waving that has been a keynote of its foreign policy over the years, I expected grandiose nationalism to be present from the title of the exhibit alone. However, I was pleasantly surprised when upon close examination, the exhibits actually offered a very detailed and relatively objective description of history.

A piece of the Berlin Wall on display.

A piece of the Berlin Wall on display.

I found the entire exhibition to be shorter than expected, but the plethora of concentrated and relevant information that was presented easily made up for the brevity. Memorabilia from the various revolutions across Eastern Europe is displayed in what I assumed to be chronological order; and to my surprise, there was even a display on the most recent revolution in Ukraine. I found that the decision to include the Ukrainian revolution really anchored the rest of the information presented, which made the other revolutions not only relatable but also showed their significance. Flags, campaign ephemera, protest posters, and other relics, all from at most two years ago were presented in a glass box and treated like important historical artefacts that I did not realise they were. Whilst the casual viewer would find a lot of the documents presented arbitrary or unimportant when compared to more significant “museum-worthy” relics; in reality, as the official brochure states, these materials “are critical to understanding the dynamic circumstances under which they were created”.


An audio sample of one of the three half-hour long documentaries being played around the pavilion.

Roxana Pop, a Graduate student at the University of Missouri was two months old when the revolution in her home country of Romania took place. Although she doesn’t recall much of the revolution itself, she learned after that it was very bloody, as a lot of young people had died to overthrow communist dictator Ceaușescu and his regime. Some people even thought it was set up by a group of new communists who wanted to be in power. In regards to the current revolution in Ukraine, she states that “Ukraine needs to be strong”. She is proud of the Ukrainians who had the vehemence to stand up for their beliefs, just like she is proud of the the people who were able to win the freedom of speech in her country. As a Romanian, however, she is proud of the natural beauty of her country and the intelligence of the people; she is proud of traditional Romanian folk culture, and of their music; she is proud of the young people of her generation for standing for their beliefs even now; she is proud of the people who protested against the Roșia Montană Project and fought against corrupted politicians. The revolution may have been 24 years past, but the spirit of the youth has not diminished in the least.

A section of the Romanian revolution display case

A section of the Romanian revolution display case

A section of the Ukrainian revolution display case.

A section of the Ukrainian revolution display case.

Roman Kolgushev, a Ukrainian graduate student, who is also studying at the University of Missouri, , thinks that the Ukrainian revolution was “something that was needed”, “something the society demanded to happen”. Though the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, there lingered a belief in Ukrainian society that the people were still a part of the fallen Union; the revolution in 2013 challenged that mentality. Kolgushev feels that “the Ukrainian society in general has come to a point, where Ukrainians realised that the frame of union is in the past, that Ukraine is a sovereign nation capable of deciding its own destiny”. He is proud of all that Ukraine has achieved so far, though he knows that Ukraine is currently in the process of rebuilding itself and establishing a series intense and difficult reforms that he hopes will end with great happiness.

Although the “Revolutions in Eastern Europe” exhibition was certainly not the most visually captivating, what it lacked in aesthetics it achieved in facts, accuracy, and substance. I feel that the exhibit is well worth one’s time, and I sincerely hope that at the end, even the casual viewer will realise the gravity behind the seemingly common objects that toppled entire political regimes and ultimately brought the Soviet Union to its knees.

“Revolutions in Eastern Europe: The Rise of Democracy, 1989-1990” is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 4 PM free of charge till August 16, 2014 at the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion; www.hoover.org/library-and-archives.

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Can you hear the people sing?