PPPler Conner beim Obama-Besuch in Berlin
19/06/2013, a day that was as miserable in weather as it was exciting in importance. The air was muggy; the sun was relentless; and it was hotter than a Currywurst sitting outside on the grill in a Berlin summer. And yet, we were all still here, but for what? What could’ve possibly convinced thousands of people from all walks of life to leave the safety of their homes and venture out on an unforgiving Wednesday morning to the Pariser Platz in the heart of Berlin; to sit in bleachers surrounding a raised podium in the baking sun; to wait hours upon hours while being serenaded by the musical styling of Saxophonists, Soul Singers, Louisiana Jazz on the piano and the world famous violinist David Garrett, all while enjoying snacks like pretzels; bananas; quiches; and Berliners/Pfannkuchen!? What or who could’ve arranged such a hullaballoo? There could only be one explanation: Barack Obama was once again in Berlin.
It was historical in context, Barack Obama’s return, as it mirrored John F. Kennedy’s visit to Berlin almost exactly 50 years ago to the day. JFK came to speak to the determination and perseverance of the Berlin people in a time of conflict, whereas President Obama seemed to be trying to rekindle a relationship that had gone somewhat dormant since the last time he spoke in Germany in 2008. Nevertheless the crowd of sunburnt faces was still ecstatic as the President accompanied by Chancellor Merkel and Berlin Mayor Wowereit entered Pariser Platz and took to the stage. Wowereit spoke first, offering his gratitude to Obama for coming and speaking to the connection of Berlin to the US and German partnership saying that Berlin is the city “in which the heart of the German-American friendship beats.” Merkel then reminded us all of the importance that friendship between these two countries has been and will have to be for our futures. Finally it was time to hear Mr. Obama give his two cents.
Even the president was feeling the heat removing his suit jacket and receiving a frenzied whooping and playful catcalls from the crowd as he did so. Obama’s speech touched on a great many topics like; creating jobs nationally and internationally, The Middle East, world hunger, stopping nuclear weaponry development, globalization, and much more. He also made many allusions to the Berlin wall using it as a metaphor in many different facets – a must for any politicians when they visit Berlin. One of these metaphors was, “ As long as walls exists in our hearts against people that don’t look like us or act like us, then we have work to do to tear them down.” He also alluded to JFKs “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech quoting it on several occasions. As Obama reached the end of his speech he looked out to the crowd, raised his hand in a wave, told the onlookers, “Vielen Dank” and turned to make his exit.
If there was one lesson to be learned on this momentous day, it would have to be: always carry sunscreen with you or water is your best friend. In a more political tone though, it would be that the job of freedom and human rights for all is not yet finished. To say it in the best way would be how Obama put it, “Complacency is not the character of today’s nations. We come to these places usually to remember history rather than make it. Our work is not yet done.” We still have a long road ahead of us but we are not alone in this journey for “we aren’t just citizens of America or Germany, but of the world.”