On June 26, 1963, the phrase “#IchBinEinBerliner” was trending worldwide.
Well, maybe it didn’t have a hash tag. And people probably didn’t say things like “Oh hey, did you see what President Kennedy tweeted @ West Germans?” But it certainly made newspaper headlines everywhere. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the German phrase, it was 49 years ago that President Kennedy addressed the citizens of West Germany in a ground-breaking speech, entitled “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”: I Am a Berliner.
In an attempt to end the Cold War and send a message of defiance and perseverance to the Soviet Union, Kennedy’s speech inspired trust and solidarity between Americans and West Germans, who Kennedy claimed “were a symbol of freedom in a world threatened by the Cold War.” This freedom sparked the courage and action that helped end the Cold War and bring about the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Kennedy was assassinated later that same year, but he remains in American and German History as one of the shining beacons of hope and liberty.
Next week, Americans everywhere will celebrate our own national freedom with fireworks, music, barbecue, and spending time with neighbors, friends, and family. Yet, only a week before our own celebrations, many Germans still recall this day in 1963 as the day that their fight for freedom began.
Watch Kennedy’s speech on the BBC website, or youtube it here. Every day we enjoy our freedom, and every day people continue to fight for it. Here at Smith, we pay our respects to the figures in history that gave a voice to those who had none, and we uphold individual liberties by offering the protection that we can. So whether you’re celebrating this week or the next, Smith invites you to remember Kennedy and his infamous speech, share with your family the values that go back to our Founding Fathers, and have a happy Independence Day!