Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today in History: JFK's *I am a Berliner* Speech

I am a Berliner, declared President John F. Kennedy to the wild applause of Berliners on June 26, 1963. The Berlin Wall had been erected only two years earlier and JFK seized the chance to comment, Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in.

Thanks to YouTube for this fine video, in living color no less.

That's me at Brandenburg Gate, 2007. One visit to Berlin and I was hooked on Cold War History.
This was my second visit - a whole week for the Pan European Lectureship.

Berlin divided. This postcard shows the sectors of Berlin with Brandenburg Gate in the center.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was accorded the rare and distinct opportunity to visit with author and Kennedy pal William Manchester some years ago, just before his death at age 82 in 2004. Manchester and JFK (both proud Massachusetts natives) were close friends between the end of the Second World War and JFK's assassination 45 years ago. In deliberate rebuttal to the myriad conspiracy theorists who otherwise believe JFK killed by a conglomeration of CIA operatives, the Mafia, LBJ, and an assorted cabal of embittered Republican detractors, Manchester explained to me in private conversation that "...Jack Kennedy died solely at the hands of a deranged lunatic, one Lee Harvey Oswald--and all the king's horses and all of Oliver Stone's men can't in any way, shape, or form change that sad fact...."

My parents were staunch Democrats from 1932 forward, and genuinely devoted Kennedy enthusiasts to the day he died, though I myself long thought JFK more of a charismatic inspirationalist and extraordinarily slick politician than a hands-on sort of president. At any rate, my long-deceased grandfather, a German-born native of the Schwaebische-Alb, absolutely loved Kennedy for his speech that day, and it's not hard to understand why when listening to those rousing words and that remarkably stirring voice.

Thanks for sharing. I'm now at an age where I find few around me who can remember 1963, and many who otherwise jestingly dismiss me as a harmless old man with too much memory on his hands. I must admit that it's rather difficult for me to live in a world in which the young and inexperienced seem to rule virtually every aspect of our lives without a firm grasp of history.

Wow. Am I morose today, or what?