Travel Diary: When History Broke Through Concrete

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 10, 2009

Trip Information Page | Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary

Secretary Clinton joined world leaders at Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Secretary said:

"Good evening, Berlin. (Applause.) It is indeed an honor and a great personal privilege to be here on behalf of President Obama and the United States of America – (applause) – to commemorate with you that night 20 years ago when history broke through concrete and barbed wire and signaled a new dawn, not just for the people of Berlin, not just for the people of Germany, but for the entire world. And that night, that night was built by the efforts, the prayers, and the work of so many.

We remember the allies who conducted the largest humanitarian airlift in history, completing more than a quarter million flights to sustain the people of West Berlin. We remember the Poles – (applause) – who waged a campaign for liberty that began with a strike in the shipyards of Gdansk and ended by shattering a system of tyranny. We remember a Polish Pope who spoke out for the aspirations of people across Europe and the world. (Applause.) We remember the people of the Baltics who joined hands across their lands and helped to break the chains that held their nations captive. We remember the students of Prague who propelled a dissident playwright from a jail cell to the presidency of a free republic.

And tonight, we remember the Germans on both sides of the wall, but particularly the Germans in the East who stood up and finally were able to say, “No more. Freedom is our birthright and we will take it by our own hands.” (Applause.) We know that millions of hearts, of minds, and hands were behind those who literally tore down the wall. But history did not end the night the wall came down; it began anew. We could not know what the people of Berlin nor the people of Germany and Europe would do with this moment. But together, we saw you transform the landscape of this continent and change the course of world events. So Berlin came to stand at the center of a free, peaceful, prosperous, reunified Germany and a free, peaceful, prosperous, unified Europe.

Two decades later, we remember. But it is also a call to action. There are still millions across our world who are separated – maybe not by walls, maybe not by barbed wire, although that still exists – but who are separated from loved ones, who are kept down and behind, unable to fulfill their own destinies. So as beneficiaries of this great bequest we inherited in 1989, those of us gathered here tonight, leaders and citizens alike, we must pledge ourselves to work together to advance freedom beyond its current frontiers so that people everywhere are afforded the opportunities to pursue their dreams and live up to their God-given potential.

I am deeply honored to introduce now a message from someone who represents the fall of different kinds of walls – of walls of discrimination, of stereotype, of character, the walls that too often are inside minds and hearts. Let me introduce a message from President Barack Obama."Related Information: Voices of U.S. Diplomacy and the Berlin Wall Online Exhibition

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