(The Federalist) — When you cross the border into Albania, you’ll notice small concrete domes with long, narrow windows. These military bunkers are everywhere in Albania—more than 750,000 exist—and are a constant reminder of the oppression the country faced under the communist rule of Enver Hoxha.

Albanians during Hoxha’s rule lived in fear of constant surveillance and nearby snipers. Hoxha also exercised control by banning religion and foreign travel and imprisoning approximately 200,000 of his citizens. His communist regime was so bad that life for the general population has been compared to life in a labor camp.

When my family drove across Albania six years ago, the presence of the bunkers answered many of our questions about the difference in habits, thinking, and social behaviors between Americans and citizens of former communist countries. We could not help but feel grateful for the rights and freedoms our homeland affords.

The New York Times, however, argued this week that our memories of communist Europe—the food shortages, the secret police, the lack of freedom—do not provide a complete picture of life then.

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