It had been percolating for years. The Soviet Union, with its repressive command and control government, simply could not keep pace with the Free World. In 1989 when communist governments fell in East Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania, it was only a matter of time before the same yearning for freedom would destroy the government of Lenin and Stalin.

A new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, saw the handwriting on the wall in the mid-80’s, and so he tried to install some reform (“liberty”) while maintaining the basic communist structure. He even withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989–the first defeat of Soviet troops since World War II. Nevertheless, nationalist tendencies coupled with a dead economy crushed what we all thought was a nearly invincible government.

A new leader, Boris Yeltsin, proclaimed the beginning of a new Russian nation, separate from the USSR. Other Soviet republics–Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and others, began disregarding
orders from Moscow. Soviet troops sent into some of these areas, simply could not quell the passion of the people to finally be free of communism.

And then, the day came. It still caught me by surprise. The Soviet parliament had voted the Soviet Union out of existence. On December 25–Christmas Day–1991, the bloody hammer and sickle banner of the
USSR was hauled down over the Kremlin. The Soviet Union was dead. Finally. Thank God.

It did not go out with a bang. It expired, with a whimper.