Ich bin ein Berliner

President Kennedy in Berlin, June 26, 1963[10]It was an American president who said it years ago standing in front of a wall that needed to come down. “I am a Berliner,” said John F. Kennedy.

The world applauded.

Decades later another American president kept his words and his hands to himself when his German guest from Berlin, German Chancellor Andrea Merkel, asked,

“Do you want to have a handshake?”

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The world frowned, remembering the student of American character Alexis de Tocqueville‘s observation.¬†“When the past no longer enlightens the future, the spirit walks in darkness.”

Older Americans, recalling with pride the old president’s “handshake” at the wall, found ourselves speaking German.

“Heute, Herr Pr√§sident, Sie haben uns peinlich gemacht. Heute sine wir Berliner –“Today, Mr. President, you embarrassed us. Today we are Berliners!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 31, 2017.