The Day the Wall Came Down
by Veryl Goodnight, Bronze, 2004
Donated by Sarah and John Lindahl, Jr.
Veryl Goodnight watched raptly with the rest of the world as the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989. That night, she says, in a dream, her plan for a sculpture of five horses racing across a prairie was transformed into a sculpture depicting the spirited animals leaping to freedom over the Berlin Wall’s ruins. Today, two monumental (1¼ life-size) installations of her sculpture exist. One is at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. The other, donated to the German people, is in Berlin. In 2004, US patrons of the arts, Sarah and John Lindahl, Jr., commissioned a one-quarter life-size version for presentation to the CIA. In explaining their reasons, John Lindahl recalled reading DCI George Tenet’s farewell remarks in July 2004, in which he said, “I am convinced that if the American people were fully aware of what you do—around the clock and around the world—they would line up at that front gate in huge, record numbers, come in here, and say thank you.” Lindahl offered the Goodnight work as such a thank you, coming, he said, “from a sincere appreciation for the patriotic sacrifice that our fellow citizens (neighbors and friends) make on our country’s behalf. . . . Our hope is that Veryl’s visionary sculpture will add a little balance to the landscape and perhaps lift a spirit or two along the way.” Today, The Day the Wall Came Down stands in the entrance of the New Headquarters Building.
At our request, Goodnight added, as graffiti on the ruins of the wall, symbols with particular meaning for CIA’s workforce. First, she added the inscription “And Ye Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Make You Free,” which graces the lobby of the Original Headquarters Building. Now, employees and visitors entering either portal will see the inscription drawn from the Bible (John 8:32) that serves as a philosophical foundation of our work. Also on the wall’s fragments is President Ronald Reagan’s famous admonition: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Finally, Goodnight added a single white star. Like the stars on CIA’s Wall of Honor that pay tribute to fallen colleagues, this star honors the fallen. But in this case, it marks the sacrifices of CIA’s foreign agents who gave their lives in a common mission during the Cold War. The CIA has recognized few such people publicly, but they were memorialized collectively in November 1999 at a ceremony in front of Goodnight’s statue at the Bush Library attended by many US political and intelligence leaders, including former President George H.W. Bush, DCI Tenet, and other former DCIs.