Tuesday, April 12, 2011

“Ich bin ein Berliner” President John F. Kennedy – June 26, 1963

This speech was given in Berlin at a time when the city was divided by the respective governments controling Germany; communist Soviet ruling the East and a combination of the French and U.S. nationalists in the West.  Kennedy went to West Berlin (located in East Germny, yet divided by power as the country was) to reiterate the American’s efforts to eliminate communism and bring up Germany to a powerful democracy.

It brought gave the people of Berlin a little bit of hope. Over half of the population flooded the streets to hear the speech given by the powerful and hopeful Kennedy.

I heard this speech when at a museum once, and it stuck with me long enough to want to use it for this project.  There is so much energy in the crowd and that doesnt even count the perfect word choice and annunciation of the president.  The speech was well written, and delievered with the great confidence.  There are a few phrases that speak not only to the citezens of Berlin, but to everyone.  There is a repeated phrase that reinforces the idea that Berlin is doing it right when it comes to avoiding the communist power.  It comdemns those who are and in a humourous way.

I’d say the mood/tone of the speech is hopeful, welcoming the Berlin citizens into the peaceful ideologies of the U.S. It is uplifting and real, comfortable and natural.

I image the audience was feeling super pumped up... like any great motivational speaker aims at.  I feel his goal was to excite the people of Berlin, and all Germans for that matter, for the promise of peace that American democracy woud bring. And because his speech was delivered in such an interesting way (with variety in pitch/tone/speed/emphasis) the people attending must have been enthusiastic.  

Another interpretation could be possible.  Becaues I am not very political I try not to look into this more than necessary, but it could happen.  One could say that it has similarities to “City upon a hill” sort of deal.  But, here I dont feel that Kennedy, or the US, for that matter, was uninvitedly forcing their systems on the people of Berlin. It could be viewed as critical of the communist east, which it was an undertone, but not fully influenced by it.

JFK Biography (the brief version)

Of Irish descent, he was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. He was the second of nine children, the son of Rose Fitzgerald and millionaire Joseph P. Kennedy who had served as ambassador to Great Britain under Franklin Roosevelt. John attended Caterbury School in New Milford, Conn., then went to Choate Academy in Wallingford, Conn. where he was voted “most likely to succeed.” He attended Princeton University briefly, then majored in government and international relations at Harvard.
Before Pearl Harbor, Kennedy entered the Navy as a seaman. He was commissioned an ensign assigned to a PT boat squadron which patrolled the Soloman Islands. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety. His heroic rescue of survivors of his crew won him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal as well as the Purple Heart.
His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: “Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” As President, he set out to redeem his campaign pledge to get America moving again. His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II; before his death, he laid plans for a massive assault on persisting pockets of privation and poverty.

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