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One of these days I am going to have a long read of the original Ron n Lana Panel; all 1,500 pages of it, and see if it could be polished up and tweaked a bit for publication. But certainly would not do that without your blessing and your co-operation.

Consider it given, sestrenka. You had it all along, as in “what have you been waiting for?”

I can’t presume to decide for you what these exchanges have meant to you, but for my part I consider them as among the great honors, privileges and achievements of my lifetime. The chain of events in my biography (there’s that word again) which led ultimately to our forming of the Panel in the 21st century, actually began well back in the twentieth and years before you became that gleam in your daddy’s eye I know you still are.

I think of you not only as a cyber-friend and my top go-to on things Russian now, but as an outcome of how I had decided to live my life, and to interpret for myself that tragic curtain thrown up between our peoples for half my lifetime. It never was, Churchillian cliches thrown out for a room full of American college kids aside, made of iron. It was made of rhetoric, all along, some in English and some in the oddball Cyrillian I still struggle to make out after years of trying.

Reagan may have envisioned that it would be Mister Gorbachev who would tear down this wall. It wasn’t; it was ordinary folks with sledgehammers and lifetimes of being divided against one another for no good reason, the same grade of folks who found themselves on the Elbe, not taking the shot, or putting themselves in the shooter’s crosshairs, each acting in that most powerful of forms of diplomacy and neighborliness: good faith.

It was good faith that tore down the wall.

The Ron and Lana Panel, as I see it, is a standing symbol of at least two ordinary people’s determination in all the good faith we can muster between us, that that wall never be put up, again.

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