This day marks a major historic event in world history as East and West merged once more into a united Germany. The reunification is probably the most significant post- World War II event since Germany was divided between the Soviet Union and the allied democracies following the German surrender in 1945.

Three days of celebration will mark this great event.When the celebrating ends, though, German leaders will face a formidable task. Translating the "on paper" unification into a physical reality will not be easy.

It will likely take most of the coming decade to solve the myriad of problems that will surface as leaders begin integrating the economically devastated east with the highly affluent West.

The assessment by one observer who said the reunification is better described as the West swallowing the East, is probably accurate.

Without doubt, it will be the economic strength of the West that will finance the physical transformation.

While those from the West will feel the economic pinch of higher taxes and the shift of government resources to the East, it will be those in the East who face the emotional trauma of high unemployment, re-education and training, and general uncertainty as the eastern portion of the nation is rebuilt.

And, it should be noted that reunification does not enjoy universal support. Extremist groups on both the right and left have vowed to disrupt the planned celebrations. The groups are also threatening to carry on their opposition through varying forms of public protest and terrorism.

In addition, there is a growing evidence that many Germans are coming to believe leaders moved too fast regarding the merger. In other words, the bills are starting to come due.

In a recent address to his Christian Democratic Union cohorts, Chancellor Helmut Kohl said Germany faces three immense tasks: the reconstruction of the east, the completion of European integration and the taking on of a greater international role.

The first of those three tasks will be of utmost concern. It will take massive spending to upgrade telecommunications networks, build adequate sewage systems and refurbish industrial plants in the pollution plagued and technology starved East.

And it will take time, and more money, to raise the eastern standard of living to the same level as in the West. Some 98 percent in the West have telephones compared to just 7 percent in the East and 97 percent in the West own automobiles compared to 52 percent in the East.

General elections scheduled for December will likely be the first indication as to the direction that effort will take.

If there is one constant in the mix it is the resilient and disciplined German spirit. That spirit helped West Germany rise from the ashes of World War II to become one of the strongest economic forces in the industrialized world.

If that spirit proves contagious for those in the East, a united Germany will not only retain and expand its hard-earned economic strength, but could become a great world power in a political sense as well.