Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama spoke in Germany Thursday to a crowd that Berlin police estimated at more than 200,000. NPR Washington Editor Ron Elving and Constanze Stelzenmuller, director of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, discuss how his remarks will be received in Europe and in the U.S.
Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee spoke to a huge crowd around the Victory Column in Berlin's Tiergarten(ph) this evening, Berlin yime, about two hours ago now. Police estimate that some 200,000 people came out to listen to the address. In his speech, the only formal address in a week-long foreign tour, Obama called on Europeans and Americans to stand together to quote, "defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it, and, to fight threats from climate change to nuclear proliferation." And he was clearly speaking to two distinct audiences today, in Berlin of course, and also to voters listening and watching here in the United States. We're going to hear some excerpts from today's speech where Obama said this city of all cities knows the dream of freedom. He called, reminded everybody that this city, Berlin, was a flash point of the Cold War.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois): This is where the two sides met. And on the 24th of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin. The size of our forces was no match for the larger Soviet army. And yet, retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended. Another world war could have easily begun. And all that stood in the way was Berlin. And that's when, that's when the airlift began. When the largest and most unlikely rescue in the history, brought food and hope to the people of the city. The odds were stacked against success. And the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold. But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up.
(Soundbite of applause)
Senator OBAMA: And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. There is only one possibility, he said. For us to stand together, united, until this battle is won, the people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, he said. And we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world, now do your duty. People of the world, look at Berlin.
(Soundbite of applause)
CONAN: Barack Obama went on to talk about the challenges of working together across the Atlantic Ocean. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats or escape responsibility in meeting them, yet in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth, and we're honest with each other, he said. We know that sometimes on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart and forgotten our shared destiny. On the campaign trail, you often hear Obama talk about change and hope. There were glimpses of those themes in his speech today. He challenged both Europeans and Americans to fight for a brighter future that guarantees human rights, equality, and opportunity.
Senator OBAMA: We must remember that the Cold War borne in this city was not battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs, instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds, love and loyalty and trust - not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here. Now, the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity, by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, and shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time? Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words never again in Darfur?
(Soundbite of applause)
Senator OBAMA: Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?
(Soundbite of applause)
Senator OBAMA: Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
(Soundbite of applause)
Senator OBAMA: People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.
CONAN: Barack Obama speaking today in Berlin. Joining us now is Constanze Stelzenmuller, the director of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. She is with us in the studios at the BBC Berlin in Germany. Nice to have you with us.
Ms. CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER (Director, German Marshall Fund, Berlin): How do you do? Thanks for having me on the show.
CONAN: And with us here in studio 3A is Ron Elving, NPR's Senior Washington Editor. Ron, always good to have you on the program.
RON ELVING: Good to be here, Neal.
CONAN: And Constanze Stelzenmuller, let me turn to you first. Clearly, one of the audiences that Barack Obama was addressing was in Berlin and in Europe today, and you'd have to think that from watching the television coverage and seeing the crowd waiving American flags, the receptions was rapturous.
Ms. STELZENMULLER: Yeah, it was very attentive. It was very, very interested and I think people who came away very impressed. I actually met a German parliamentarian leaving the speech and he said, you know nobody here could have drawn this kind of crowd to this place.
CONAN: Nobody there could have drawn that kind of crowd. It is astonishing, Ron Elving, from an American's point of view, to see a huge crowd gathered in a European capital waiving American flags.
ELVING: There has to be something of a curiosity factor, but we have seen over and over in the polls in recent weeks and months that Barack Obama - if he's something of a phenomenon in this country is truly a phenomenon in Europe. People are fascinated with him. He's a new kind of American politician. It is, of course, partially his race. But it's also his age, it's the nature of his rhetoric, the nature of his vision, the nature of the way that he is actually talking about a kind of international approach to problems which I think is highly popular in Europe.
CONAN: And I was going to just ask Constanze Stelzenmuller about that. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. That is a message that many in Europe have longed to hear.
Ms. STELZENMULLER: It's a remarkable statement. An admission that even the world's sole remaining super power finds itself faced with challenges that it cannot defeat on its own and certainly not with military might. To be fair, I think the Bush administration in recent years has come to realize that; and if not saying so, has certainly acted on that understanding, on that insight. But to have it said in the middle of Berlin in Tiergarten in such a historic place is extraordinarily meaningful of course.
CONAN: Yet, he also challenged Europeans and specifically Germans. Earlier in the day, he'd met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and one of the things they talked about was Afghanistan, and she had said no, no more German troops are going to Afghanistan, and he called for German troops to be sent to Afghanistan.
Ms. STELZENMULLER: Well, I think people sometimes forget just how many German troops already are in Afghanistan. And that recently, the Germans have sent several hundred more. I think 600 more to fill a rapid reaction unit in the north. The truth of the matter here in Germany is that we too are moving into an election year. The federal elections will be in September 2009, country's run by a very fractious grand coalition between the conservative and social Democrats. And the public is critical of this. Of any president, whether he's called Barack Obama or John McCain will have to manage this kind of issue very carefully.
CONAN: And Ron Elving, there is - of some people have noted an election that - in this country in this year ahead, this was clearly part of that campaign, this is something that Barack Obama, that image of him in front of that huge crowd in Europe waiving American flags. It's going to be indelible.
ELVING: Yes, it's an image. It's a video image. It's a photographic image and he also invoked a couple of other historic images in his remarks today, talking about the Ich Bin Berliner speech note that John F. Kennedy gave in 1961 when he visited Berlin and the shadow of another Berlin Wall crisis. Then of course, he talked about Ronald Reagan and the famous, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall speech, in the 1980s which of course did lead to the eventual destruction of the Berlin Wall, not so much literally by Mikhail Gorbachev as by the Berliners themselves. The Germans themselves in an atmosphere that Mr. Gorbachev helped to create.
And he also made reference of course to the Berlin airlift of 1948, quite a historical sweep 60 years in taking an awful a lot of history, a lot of changed relationships between a lot of different countries. Illustrating among other things, that no matter how great the challenge of a particular time may seem it can be overcome with the kind of consorted action we've seen in the past and the kind of political leadership that we've seen in the past.
CONAN: Constanze Stelzenmuller, the opposition in this country is trying to portray Barack Obama as inexperienced, a man who will have hard time finding his feet in foreign affairs given his performances. Germans have watched it from the Middle East and now to Berlin. How's he doing?
Ms. STELZENMULLER: It seems to me that hitherto he hasn't set a foot amiss during this trip from what I've seen. He's behaved in an exemplary way, not crossing anyone, not making any mistakes. And the great challenge of this speech, of course, was to straddle the transatlantic, if you will, rhetorically. Appealing both to Americans and to Europeans, and to the Americans in the audience. Don't forget they're about 20,000 Americans living in those (unintelligible) and I bet some of them were waving those American flags.
But the other interesting part of the speech was, of course, that it wasn't just a speech about history as Mr. Elving just said very, very rightly. It was also a very modern speech. It was about globalization. What he was saying was that we have overcome the challenges of the 20th century together. But now the 21st century, we find ourselves faced with issues, with challenges, where we realize we really are intertwined. We no longer are separate and therefore we must deal with these responsibilities together. That's a very appealing message in Europe, where the European union has brought people together in a way with the unknown in the rest of the world.
CONAN: Constanze Stelzenmuller of the German Martial Fund in Berlin, Ron Elving of NPR News here in Washington, and you're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And we have a caller on the line, Augie is with us. Augie calling our set from Berlin.
AUGIE (Caller): Hi. I'm an American who's been living in Berlin for 22 years. I was one of the very many Americans that went to see Barack Obama this evening. And I was, first of all, I was struck by the number of young people that were in the audience. I would say around where I was standing, which was way far back from the (unintelligible) because I got there only an hour in advance, I would say 70 to 80 percent of the people around where under 30. So I was, first of all, amazed at the youth of the people who came to see him. That was one comment I had.
And the second comment was that because of this youth, I think when he talked about the reasons why Germans love the United States, the reason they have namely the airlift, the support of Berlin. These young people know this mostly from history and when he talked about how much he loved America, I heard a definite rumble go through the audience. That doesn't go over so well with young Germans. I couldn't imagine a young German ever saying, I love Germany. He would be labeled right-wing extremist if he did that.
CONAN: That's interesting. Ron Elving, that part of the speech though may have been intended for the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
ELVING: Yes, indeed, as many parts clearly were. There was another moment where, as the caller probably also observed, he said America has not perfected itself, but the reaction of the crowd at that point was a little bit, not exactly jeering, but that there was a little bit of that same spirit of, yeah, no kidding, from the audience particularly I imagine of those younger Germans. And Augie, what did you think of the speech?
AUGIE: Well, I liked it. I think I was expecting a little bit more of a campaign speech than something that was so general. I mean, it was of course, from that content, it was, it was very moving. It was a very moving speech, but I was kind of expecting a few comments about John McCain. I was expecting a few comments about George W. Bush, but I guess it's diplomatically improper for him to criticize his government in another country. It wasn't quite what I was expecting.
CONAN: Well, Constanze Stelzenmuller, he began his speech by saying I'm here as a proud citizen of the United States... Ms. STELZENMULLER: Yes.
CONAN: A fellow citizen of the world as a candidate for president. I speak to you though not as a candidate for president. And it seemed to be that he was trying to pull off the statesman-like role and very much, speak as if were the president of the United States.
Ms. STELZENMULLER: Well, in a sense, you know, you really had to cross all, you take off all the boxes I think is the expression. And I think that that was an almost impossible task, and I think he fulfilled it almost perfectly, frankly, really. He appealed to history, he appealed to modern sensibilities and fears and hopes. He appealed to the Americans and to the Europeans. I'm not sure I agree with the caller that for somebody, an American presidential candidate to say he's proud of America, we wouldn't think of that as right-wing.
I think that's perfectly okay for somebody to do. And you know, the German I think have learned to be a little more relaxed about themselves in recent years, with the soccer World Cup and other things as well. But I think his - he got a very, very respectful audience. And as I said, I don't know of a German politician who could draw 200,000 people in the middle of Berlin on a perfect balmy day. It was pretty impressive.
CONAN: Augie, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.
AUGIE: Thank you.
CONAN: Bye bye. And Constanze Stelzenmuller, thank you for being with us.
Ms. STELZENMULLER: Thank you. It was a pleasure. As always.
CONAN: Constanze Stelzenmuller is director of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin and a former reporter and editor at Die Zeit. She joined us today from the studios at the BBC Berlin in Germany. And Ron Elving, as always, thank you for your time.
ELVING: Thank you.
CONAN: Ron Elving is NPR Senior Washington Editor and joined us here today in Studio 3A. Tomorrow, Ira Flatow will be here on Science Friday. I'm off on vacation next week. Lynn Neary sits in for me, so have a great weekend everybody, and we'll see you in a couple of weeks. This is Talk of the Nation from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.
Sen. Barack Obama waves to the crowd after making a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin.
Michael Gottschalk/AFP/Getty Images
Sen. Barack Obama waves to the crowd after making a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin.
Michael Gottschalk/AFP/Getty Images
Sen. Barack Obama addressed an expansive crowd Thursday near the site where the Berlin Wall once stood, calling on the U.S. and Europe to build new bridges of partnership "to protect our common security and advance our common humanity."
The Democratic presidential hopeful's speech was the centerpiece of a tour through Europe aimed at reassuring skeptics at home and abroad of his ability to lead and to move the cross-Atlantic alliance in a new direction.
"The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand," Obama said at Berlin's Tiergarten Park, alluding to often strained relations between Europe and the United States during the Bush administration. "While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.
"Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the only way, it is the one only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity," he said to a crowd that Berlin police estimated at more than 200,000. "This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it."
The Illinois senator drew loud applause at several points during his speech, which used the Berlin Wall, a Cold War icon which was demolished in 1989, as a metaphor for divisions that continue to separate humanity.
"The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christians and Muslim and Jew cannot stand," he said. "These now are the walls we must tear down."
Obama met earlier in the day with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a discussion that ranged across the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change, energy issues and more.
Transcript: Obama's Speech In Berlin
Sen. Barack Obama spoke in Berlin on Thursday during his whirlwind trip through Europe. In the speech before thousands of onlookers, the Democratic presidential candidate talked about the need for Europe and the United States to work together to defeat terrorism, fight global warming and work toward peace in the Middle East. The following are his prepared remarks, provided by the Obama campaign.
Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.
That is why I'm here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.
Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Tempelhof.
On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.
This is where the two sides met. And on the 24 of June, 1948, the communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.
The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.
And that's when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.
The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.
But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. "There is only one possibility," he said. "For us to stand together united until this battle is won...The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty...People of the world, look at Berlin!"
People of the world – look at Berlin!
Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.
Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.
Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.
People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.
Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.
The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.
As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.
Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.
In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we're honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.
In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.
Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.
That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.
The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.
So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.
That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.
This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.
This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.
This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.
This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.
This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.
And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?
Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.
I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.
These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.
People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.